Getting a Divorce? On what grounds?

divorce-cake“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”   

This may be something I read in a cheesy chick book, but there’s a lot of truth in it!

Sometimes, for one reason or another, marriages just don’t work.
It is an unfortunate statistic that here in Northern Ireland, one in four marriages ends in divorce

Many people, particularly older generations, feel that divorce has become somewhat ‘fashionable’ these days and that it is too ‘easy’ for couples to get divorced.

Whilst some could argue that there may be a little truth in that given the statistics, it is by no means the case that any Tom Dick or Harry (or their female counterparts!) can simply get a divorce.

What do I need to show before I can get a divorce?

In Northern Ireland, in order to get a divorce, you firstly need to have been married at least 2 years to your spouse.

This doesn’t mean that you are compelled to continue living with your spouse for a full 2 years – you can of course live separately. However you will not be in a position to apply (or as it’s called in the profession ‘petition’) for divorce until you’ve been married at least 2 years.

Then, either you may be able to petition for divorce so long as they can show that their marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down.’

The ‘grounds’ for divorce

There are five ‘grounds’ for divorce – one of which you must satisfy in order to get a divorce.

  1. Unreasonable Behaviour

To get a divorce on this ground, you need to show the Court that your husband’/wife has behaved so unreasonably that you can no longer be expected to live with them.

Types of unreasonable behaviour are wide ranging and can include, for example, physical or verbal aggression, lack of communication, financial control or misconduct and addictions.

  1. Adultery

In order to petition for divorce on the ground of adultery, you need to show the Court that your husband/wife has committed adultery during the course of the marriage.

The person with whom your partner had the affair can be joined and named in the Divorce Petition also.

  1. Two Years Separation With Consent

This is available where both you and your partner have lived separately for more than two years and your partner consents to the divorce. You can have been living in the same property during this time but must have lived independently to one another. This can happen where, for example, you both live in the same house but have separate bedrooms and would not cook or clean or spend time with one another.

  1. Desertion for Two Years

This occurs is where your partner has effectively ‘deserted’ you. This ground is technically difficult to prove and is very rarely relied upon in divorce proceedings.

  1. Five Years Separation

This ground is available where you and your partner have lived separate for more than five years. You do not require your partner’s consent on this ground.

Many people think that the law surrounding divorce is outdated – that if you are able to freely enter into a marriage, you should be able to freely get out of it again, without the law dictating how and when you can do this.
As it stands at the moment though, any person wishing to divorce their partner in Northern Ireland will need to satisfy one of the grounds above.
We would be interested to know your thoughts on this –
Perhaps you have been unable to get divorced yet because you do not presently satisfy any of the grounds?
Maybe you think that having criteria in this way to restrict divorce is a good thing?? Please let us know your views on this topic below.

If you need any further information on divorce please contact us or feel free to leave a comment below.

Same Sex Marriage & Civil Partnerships

 

gay cakeFollowing the historic outcome of the Republic of Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum last week,there have been cries throughout Northern Ireland for equality for same-sex partners on the same level.

England, Scotland and Wales had their first same-sex weddings in 2014 after changes in the law allowed for marriage equality.

However, currently in Northern Ireland, same-sex couples can enter a Civil Partnership but not a legal marriage.

A protest march for equality will take place tomorrow Saturday 13th June in Belfast with campaign groups such as Amnesty International and The Rainbow Project taking part.

So, what are the rights of same-sex couples who enter into a Civil Partnership??

Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, same-sex couples essentially have the same legal rights as couples who have entered into a civil marriage.

So by entering into a civil partnership, same-sex couples acquire, amongst others, the following legal rights and responsibilities:-

  • The same rights to property as married couples -for example, they may by law have rights over their partner’s property even if they are not on the title deeds
  • They are considered their partner’s legal ‘next of kin’ – for example, if their partner is sick in hospital, they would be entitled to information about their medical treatment
  • The same rights of inheritance as married couples – for example, if their partner died without making a Will, they would be treated as next of kin and are able to inherit from their partner’s Estate.
  • Entitlement to the same inheritance tax exemptions as married couples – ie they can leave their assets upon death to their partner without being hit with inheritance tax.
  • The ability to acquire Parental Responsibility for their partner’s child/children. 
  • The same recognition for immigration and nationality purposes

I have separated from my civil partner – what are my rights??

If civil partners separate, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 allows for property issues, maintenance matters and pension entitlement to all be dealt with in the same way as if the couple were a married couple going through a divorce.

When issues between civil partners can’t be resolved by agreement, the Court can adjudicate on how property and pensions should be divided out or how much maintenance should be paid by one partner to the other – much the same way as if the couple were married and divorcing.

Civil Partnerships & Same- Sex Marriage- what’s the difference??

As civil partnerships offer the same legal treatment to couples as marriage, some people may wonder why there is such a push for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland. Some may ask ‘If you have the same rights as a civil partner, then what’s all the fuss about?’

However, civil partnership is a legal relationship. Opposite sex couples can choose to be married by way of a religious or civil ceremony, whereas entering into a civil partnership is exclusively a civil process.

Many people find that to separate the two in this way is unfair – that whilst same sex couples have legal rights, these are not exactly the same as those given to opposite sex couples. And equal should mean equal right?

It’s an interesting area of discussion and one that it would be interesting to hear from you all on. Please feel free to post your comments and remarks for us below!

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