The Ashley Madison Effect: 5 Things You Should Know About Divorcing On Adultery in NI

‘Life is Short. Have an Affair’

This is the slogan that has featured heavily in the media in the past few weeks.

Its aim?? Quite simply to draw people onto a Canadian-based dating website called ‘Ashley Madison’, a website which is marketed towards people who are married or in a committed relationship who wish to commit adultery.

In a technology obsessed world, it now seems that it may actually be possible to start an adulterous relationship from the comfort of your own home. The mind truly boggles!

Though on a serious note, what things should unsuspecting (or indeed suspecting) spouses/civil partners know if they catch their other half on a website such as this?

Here are a few pointers:-

1.  Chatting online is not proof of adultery

Catching your spouse on a dating website is not enough in itself to prove to a Court that they have committed adultery for the purpose of divorce proceedings. Some people may be surprised to discover that in order to rely on adultery you actually need to provide proof to the Court that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.

Chatting on dating websites may, however, be enough to prove to that your spouse has been behaving unreasonably towards you – for example, it can be used to show a Court that they have been leading the life of a single person or in fact that they have been having an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with another person.

2.  An admission of adultery is often enough for the Court

If upon being confronted, your spouse admits to having committed adultery, this may be enough evidence to file for divorce on the grounds of their adultery.

3. You can ask the Court to make your spouse pay for the divorce

If you successfully file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, or even on the ground that their behaviour is unreasonable, you can ask the Court to make an Order for legal costs against your spouse. Essentially you would be claiming that because the marriage breakdown was the fault of your spouse they should pay your legal costs in getting a divorce. Whilst this may not ease the heartache caused, it may relieve the financial burden of ending the relationship.

4. You can name the third party in divorce proceedings if you wish to

If you file for divorce on the ground of your spouse’s adultery, you have the option to name the other party involved in the divorce proceedings. They would then be named on all of the divorce papers and may also be ordered to pay towards the costs of your divorce.

5. Forgiving adultery may mean that you can’t rely on it for divorce

If, after discovering that your spouse committed adultery, you resume married life and continue to live with your spouse for more than six months after discovering the affair, you may not be able to rely on the ground of adultery in the future should things not work out between you. This is because you may be seen to have condoned or forgiven your spouse’s behaviour and therefore you can’t later seek to rely on it.

We all hope that adultery and infidelity will never darken the door of our own relationships and that all we need to worry about is whose turn it is to wash the dishes! However, if you do need information or assistance in relation to any aspect of divorce or relationship breakdown, you can seek confidential advice from an experienced solicitor in this area to guide you through your options.

As always, we appreciate your comments on this topic.  If you do need any further information, please contact Karen or Claire

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.