Divorce

A leader in this field, Hughes Fowler Carruthers has excellent international connections and extensive experience in all aspects of divorce law.

“They are easily ahead of everybody else and are particularly good at quickly evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a case”

Chambers 2020

The divorce process in England & Wales is old fashioned, but the entire process can be and normally is dealt with on paper.

Unless a divorcing couple wishes to wait at least two years then a divorce petition cannot simply be based upon the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  The Petitioner has to allege and prove to the court either the adultery of the Respondent or his or her unreasonable behaviour.  No divorce can be initiated within the first year of the marriage.

There are five facts which a divorce petition must allege in order to support the assertion that a marriage has broken down irretrievably:

  • The other party has committed adultery and the Petitioner finds it intolerable to live with him/her;
  • The other party has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with them;
  • The other party has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years (for technical reasons this is virtually never used);
  • The parties have been living apart for at least two years and the other party agrees to a divorce; or
  • The parties have been living apart for at least five years, in which case the consent of the other party is not needed.

In practice, many divorce petitions are agreed beforehand and rely either on admitted adultery (there is no need to name a third party) or mild complaints of unreasonable behaviour. If someone finds the basis of a divorce unacceptable, he or she can defend the divorce and file a cross petition. That usually results in an agreed way forward, such as an amended petition or proceedings on both petitions.

There are complex rules governing which country may have jurisdiction to hear a divorce and, consequently, deal with the financial consequences of the divorce (see International and Jurisdictional Disputes for more information). If there is a choice of jurisdiction (which could include Scotland) early steps must be taken to identify where the divorce should take place.

As a leading firm in this field, Hughes Fowler Carruthers has excellent international connections and extensive experience in all aspects of divorce law.