family law Resources

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Divorce

Divorce is a process through which a marriage can be brought to an end.

The decree of divorce is pronounced in open court by either a Circuit Judge or a District Judge. Until that decree is pronounced, the marriage remains a valid one. There is only one ground for divorce as per Section 1(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: the marriage must have broken down irretrievably.

In addition to showing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, a petitioner should also show one of the five facts under Section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The five facts are as follows:

(1) The respondent has committed adultery (a voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not his spouse) and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;

(2) The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

(3) Where there is desertion, i.e. the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of two years immediately before the presentation of the petition for divorce;

(4) The parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately before the presentation of the petition for divorce and the respondent consents to such a decree being granted; and

(5) The parties have lived apart for a continuous period of five years immediately before the presentation of the petition for divorce.

One of the main criticisms levelled against the present state of the law on divorce is that it increases acrimony between the parties. An alternative mechanism which has been introduced to help couples deal with the consequences of their divorce is mediation. The aims of mediation are to define the matters between on which the parties are in dispute and to encourage them to come to an agreed solution.