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Divorce or Dissolving a Civil Partnership

When a marriage or civil partnership goes sour, both people may wish to formally dissolve their connection. A divorce is sought by a married person. The dissolution of a civil relationship is requested. During the first two years of your marriage or civil partnership, you can’t file for divorce or termination.

Cases of divorce and civil partnership

If you wish to file for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, you will need to go through the County Court or High Court.

The spouse or civil partner who initiates the application is known as the ‘petitioner’. They can choose to represent themselves or seek legal counsel from a solicitor. If individuals opt to represent themselves, they can still get guidance and advice from organizations like Advice NI.

  • Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service

Reasons Why a Marriage or Civil Partnership can End

The following are the grounds on which a divorce petition may be filed:

  • A divorce is granted to a couple after two years of separation with the consent of both spouses.
  • five years of separation
  • atrocious conduct
  • adultery
  • desertion

Even if you and your partner have decided to terminate your civil partnership, it may be dissolved for one of the following reasons:

  • The partnership can be dissolved if the two partners have been separated for at least two years and both agree to the dissolution.
  • five years of separation
  • atrocious conduct
  • desertion

Getting started with divorce or dissolution procedures

If you don’t want to use a solicitor and both parties agree on the divorce, dissolution, or separation, you can get more information from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service. You can also ask the Matrimonial Office for help drafting a petition for divorce/civil partnership/separation if you’re acting as your petitioner.

If any of the following apply to you, then reach out to a solicitor:

  • Without the approval of your ex-spouse or civil partner, you are unable to divorce or dissolve your marriage/civil partnership.
  • After the complaint was filed, they defended the case.
  • A directory of solicitors 

Filing an Appeal in the Matrimonial Office

To start the divorce or dissolution procedure, you file the petition and pay the fee. You are the petitioner in this instance. The respondent is your spouse or civil partner.

The documents you need to file in the Matrimonial Office when lodging a petition are:

  • certificate of marriage or civil partnership
  • Service form acknowledgment
  • A birth certificate for anyone under the age of 18.
  • pick which agreements you would like to be considered legally binding
  • The previous orders of the court in your marriage or civil partnership

Lodging a petition incurs a fee.

To file a petition in court, you must pay £261.

Delivering the petition

After the paperwork is taken care of, the court will give you a certified copy of the petition. You can then send this copy to the respondent, which act is called ‘serving the petition’.

The case was brought before the court.

After we receive all of the documents, your case will be listed before the court. The court will tell you and your spouse or civil partner when the case is scheduled to be heard. If the respondent defends the petition, it will be heard in High Court.

The fees you will have to pay for a court hearing.

The following are the court date fees:

  • £327.00 – County Court
  • £392.00 – High Court

The respondent agrees to the petition.

If your petition is granted, you will be required to take a religious oath or make an affirmation (promise) and validate the information in your petition.

The respondent argues in opposition to the petition.

If the respondent defends your petition, you will likely need to present evidence and be cross-examined by their legal representative. In this case, you should seek professional legal advice.

Granting a nisi or conditionally granted an order

If a judge is satisfied with the evidence that a marriage has broken down irretrievably, they will grant a decree nisi. For a civil partnership, they will grant conditional order.

Getting a court order for an absolute decree

The petitioner can apply to make the decree absolute or the conditional order final six weeks and one day after the decree nisi or conditional order is granted. They need to go to the court where the divorce or dissolution case was heard.

A marriage or civil partnership is legally ended when:

  • The court grants the decree absolute.
  • The finalization of the condition order is announced.

The court can make decisions about subjects like finance, maintenance, and property.

After three months and a day, the respondent may apply for a decree absolute or conditionally to be made definitive. They can only do so with the court’s approval.

The court fee for decree absolute 

The price for a decree absolute or conditional order finalized is £98.00. You should apply to the court that originally heard the case.

You will be granted either a decree absolute or conditional order.

The decree absolute or conditional order made final grants you and your former spouse or civil partner a copy of an important document- which must be kept for records. This document is evidence of your divorce, and you’ll need it to:

  • to obtain a passport
  • getting married or forming a new civil partnership
  • To apply for your pension or certain state benefits.
  • Student grant application
  • To acquire a grant of probate or Letters of Administration.

Find out more about separation and divorce from the law depot.

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