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How to Begin the Divorce Process

We understand that considering filing for divorce comes with a number of questions and concerns. How long do I need to wait before I can file? How long does the process take? One of our senior lawyers answers some of the most common questions we get asked when it comes to beginning the divorce process.

When can I file for a divorce?

It is important to know, you cannot file a divorce application unless you have been separated from your former partner for at least 12 months. For many of our clients, this period of separation has involved living in separate households. If however, you have continued to live with your former partner under one roof during the period of separation, you can still apply for a divorce. In those circumstances you are required to corroborate ( by way of Affidavit material) that you actually have lived separately and apart under the one roof.

What happens after I file for divorce?

The divorce application may be filed by the parties jointly, if you remain on friendly terms with your former spouse. You may also file for a divorce on your own. Once you have filed, you will be allocated a hearing date in about 6 – 7 weeks. If you file on your own, your former partner will need to be served. On the hearing date, provided you can prove service, and if there are children under the age of 18 years, as long as the arrangements for the children are reasonably satisfactory, the Judge or the Registrar hearing the divorce application will grant a Decree Nisi.  The Decree Nisi will not become absolute for 1 month and 1 day from the date of the hearing.

For example, if your divorce hearing was on 25 June, and you had filed your application properly, you could prove service, and if there were children, the Registrar or the Judge was satisfied that proper arrangements had been made for their welfare and a Decree Nisi was pronounced. The Decree Nisi would not become absolute until the 26 July. The court does not process the Divorce Order until the decree is absolute.

How do I prove I have been separated from my ex-partner if we have been living under the same roof?

You are able to apply for a divorce if you are still living under the one roof with your former partner during the period you claim to have been separated. However, you must be living separately and apart, although under the one roof.

The Applicant for the divorce has to file an Affidavit in this situation, plus there evidence needs to be corroborated by the Affidavit of a witness. It is preferable for that witness not to be one of the adult children of the parties, although sometimes this is unavoidable. Sometimes neighbours will corroborate, friends or other family members. Where you have had a period of living under the one roof you should come to court on the hearing date with your witness, in case the Registrar or Judge want to ask a couple of questions, which they often do.

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