Divorce can only be granted by a Judge upon the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. The three most common grounds for showing irretrievable breakdown are adultery, unreasonable behaviour and two years separation (by consent).
The majority of divorces are granted in uncontested proceedings where the Respondent accepts the Applicant’s divorce petition proceeding on the grounds alleged. This means there is rarely a court hearing and the divorce is granted on submission of the relevant paper work.
A financial settlement between the divorcing couple should run concurrently with the divorce process but needs to be applied for separately. A financial settlement upon divorce can be reached by consent or in contested proceedings in the family court. Whatever the circumstances legal advice is strongly recommended because once an order is made it generally cannot be changed.
If a financial settlement is reached by consent without court proceedings then very often a hearing will not be required at all. If proceedings are contested then a possible three hearings may be needed: first appointment hearing, financial dispute resolution hearing and final hearing. Before going into court for the first time the parties will be required to disclose all of their finances to each other in a court form called Form E. Most cases settle by negotiation on or around the time of the financial dispute resolution hearing. Only once the case reaches a final hearing can the family court make a binding order if the parties have not reached an agreement.