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Divorce & Separation

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. A couple can only start divorce proceedings if they have been married for more than one year.

As the law presently stands, there is only one ground for divorce: you must show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. In addition, it is necessary to prove one of the following five facts:-

  1. Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them.
  2. Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
  3. Your spouse has deserted you and you have lived apart for more than two years.
  4. You have lived apart for more than two years and your spouse consents to the divorce.
  5. You have lived apart for more than five years.

It follows that, until you have lived apart for at least two years, it is necessary to rely on either (1) or (2) above, in addition to showing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down when presenting a divorce petition. The proceedings will take approximately six months to conclude.

You are free to re-marry upon Decree Absolute. Financial matters can be resolved either before or after the Decree Absolute.

Separation as an alternative to Divorce

If you consider that your marriage has broken down, you do not have to start divorce proceedings unless you wish to - separation from your spouse can be an alternative.

If you and your spouse have agreed issues, a Separation Deed or Agreement can be drawn up and concluded between you. This is a contract between the husband and wife which deals with all aspects of the separation by agreement.

Judicial Separation Proceedings: This is a procedure very similar to divorce except that, at the conclusion, your marriage will not be dissolved and you will not be free to re-marry. To petition for a Decree of Judicial Separation you must prove the same facts as for a divorce outlined above.

After making a Judicial Separation Decree, a Court has power to make Orders concerning property and other financial matters.

Such proceedings can be used if, for example, one partner has an objection to divorce on religious grounds, if the couple have not been married for one year or if the couple wish merely to separate and are unable to agree financial arrangements.

Proceedings before the Family Proceedings Court (Magistrates): Applications can be made to this Court for Orders for maintenance or to resolve disputes concerning children when parties have separated.

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