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How to start divorce proceedings

The person who starts the divorce proceedings is known as the petitioner.

The person responding to the proceedings is called the respondent.

It is the petitioner who files the petition at court in order to begin the divorce proceedings. Your solicitor can also do this for you if you would prefer, or if it is inconvenient to get to an English court because you live abroad.

The petition gives information to the court about why you and your spouse are ending the marriage.

In this petition, you must show that there has been an ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of your marriage.

You can do this by giving evidence in order to prove one of five things:

1) Unreasonable behaviour

You’ll need to show the court that your spouse has behaved so badly that you cannot bear to live with them any longer.

2) Adultery

In order to rely on adultery as to why your marriage has irretrievably broken down, you will need to show that your spouse has had sex with a member of the opposite sex and that, because of this, you can’t bear to live with them any longer. You may be unable to use this ground if you found out more than 6 months ago.

3) Separation for more than 2 years (with consent)

4) Separation for 5 years (without consent)

5) Your spouse has deserted you (this will need to be for two years or more)

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