Is it time to move on from your marriage? If you have decided that divorce is the next step in your life journey, it need not be a difficult process.
Since the advent of no-fault divorce in the 1970s, the law reflects the view that no-one is to blame for a marriage coming to an end. Whatever the morals of the situation, the law doesn’t really want to get involved. It just wants to help you move on and begin again. Therefore, once you have been separated from your partner for 12 months, you can apply for a divorce. You can apply on your own or jointly. It’s up to you.
TIP: Don’t ignore the ticking clock… One of the first things we ask our clients who seek a divorce is whether property matters have been resolved between them. Once divorced, you have only 12 months to resolve any property matters. If you haven’t resolved the property division by then or applied to the court, you will need special leave of the court to apply to finalise matters.
The key matter the law cares about is identifying the date of separation. Often one party will move out of the family home and this provides a very clear date to count the months from when separation began.
In other instances, it’s not so clear cut. These days with the rising price of house prices/rent and the need to continue to pay the mortgage until a property settlement is negotiated and the house either sold or the home loan refinanced, many folks decide that they will be better off financially staying in the house together for the time being – although living separate lives.
This common situation is recognised by the law and is called ‘separation under the same roof’. The 12 months’ requirement for separation still applies but identifying the date that separation began can be a little more challenging. In this situation additional proof may be needed to accompany the application for divorce. This will explain when separation began and how it is proven in a holistic fashion, detailing for instance by the date you told your children and family you were separated, when your partner moved into the spare bedroom and you each began cooking your own meals, doing your own household chores and separating your finances.
The court cares a great deal about the children of the marriage and as part of the divorce application, you will be required to attend the hearing and advise the care arrangements for any children under the age of 18 years. Where there are no children involved, often there is no requirement for either party to attend court and the application can be processed simply on the papers.
Don’t forget later-life marriages either. As we are living longer than ever and the rate of divorce increases, it is not unusual for people to marry more than once in their life – or twice or more. Unfortunately, the statistics for second and third marriages lasting are as depressing as for first marriages. Nonetheless, for the optimists amongst us, later-life marriages can offer welcome comfort and companionship. These relationships often bring with them a host of additional issues surrounding the integration, or not, of families and their expectations. Let alone the property side of things. Divorce will only bring it all to a head so seek professional advice sooner rather than later.
TIP: If the person who is applying for the divorce has a government-issued health care card, the court filing fee can be reduced dramatically. (Note both parties must be eligible if filing a joint application).
Have you decided it is time to divorce? Contact us by phone or email for friendly advice on how to make it happen.