Our Managing Partner James Thornton recently appeared on BBC Radio Leeds discussing divorce trends and statistics with Martin Kelner. The topics were wide ranging, and had been prompted by Martin having read an article in The Telegraph that morning which said that 12% of couples who get divorced end up back together and remarrying.
It was a lively discussion, and James was asked to cover a wide range of subjects around the area of divorce. The interview can be found here, for a limited time. However James outlines some of the topics covered, and more in this post.
Are people too quick to divorce?
Married couples have to be married for at least 12 months before they can get divorced. Even then, they must satisfy the court that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. That is the sole ground for a divorce, and it is established by proving 1 of 5 facts:
1. Adultery by the other party which is admitted
2. Unreasonable behaviour of the other party
3. Two years’ separation with consent of both parties
4. Two years’ desertion, or
5. Five years separation
So, marry in haste but you still have to wait until you can divorce, and must establish one of those five facts to be able to dissolve the marriage.
The average length of a marriage in this country is 10 years. And, as reported by The Independent, those who married in between 1986 and 1988 have the highest chance of becoming divorced at 44% of all marriages celebrated between those years.
Is it easy to divorce?
Martin asked James what he does when faced with a new client who wants to be divorced. James explained that it is his duty to ask that client whether they have considered any form of relationship advice or counselling before they take any further steps to start divorce proceedings.
James explained that he has links with relationship counsellors, mediators and psychologists all of whom can assist couples in saving their relationship if they are both willing and able to try to make a go of it. James said that it is not his role to split couples up, but to help them if they have decided that it is finally at an end.
How do you get divorced?
An uncontested divorce can be obtained without ever setting foot in court. The person starting the process is called the petitioner, and the other is the respondent. A petition is filed and the court send a copy to the respondent who has 7 days to respond. If not contested, then the petitioner applies for the decree nisi which is the ‘conditional’ decree of divorce. If the court is satisfied that the petitioner has established the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage then a date is set for decree nisi. The parties need not attend court. Then the petitioner can apply for decree absolute, the final decree, six weeks and a day later. However, it is not advisable to do so until the finances are resolved or else the petitioner can lose pension and inheritance claims which should usually be dealt with before applying for the final decree.
Is January the ‘Divorce month’?
This is a common myth perpetuated by many lawyers and the media. In actual fact, Paradigm Family Law did their own research and discovered that in England most people are searching for advice about divorce in July, not January. This was recently picked up by Private Eye, who name-checked Paradigm Family Law in their article ‘Divorce Day Deception’.
In Europe, the peak time for searching for divorce advice varies country by country. In France most people are searching in May. In Germany it is just after Valentine’s Day in February. For the Spanish, Italians and Portuguese it is August.
In our experience, and as we discussed here, most people seem to seek advice after holiday periods, the summer 6 week holiday being the longest in the year.
Can Cheryl Fernandez-Versini get divorced?
Statistics reported here, stated that celebrity couples are twice as likely to divorce those couples in the public eye are always in the spotlight when their relationships falter.
In the Mirror, an article appeared that suggested that Cheryl might have to wait 3 years before she can divorce from her French husband. It quoted Grenadine law as applying to marriages on the island of Mustique. But that is nonsense. The law of the country in which you married does not apply to you when looking to divorce. It is where you live or have domicile that is relevant. So, if Cheryl does want to divorce now she can, and would be subject to the law of England and Wales. That might also be very attractive for her husband, who as a French national, could still use our legal system and potentially secure a much more favourable financial outcome than in France.
So there was certainly lots to talk about, and time inevitably ran out. But it goes to show that the trends in divorce can provide interesting talking points and it is certainly an ever changing area of the law which will continue to be the subject of public and media interest for some time to come.
For more details on this or any other family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James or Frank. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email us to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest news and views on family law.