Private Client Services

Divorce and separation

When a marriage breaks down, it is normally advisable to legally end the marriage through divorce proceedings. Although ‘no fault divorce’ is soon to be introduced, currently a person wishing to divorce must still establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by citing one of the five facts for divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • 2 years’ separation with consent of the other party
  • 5 years’ separation without consent
  • 2 years’ desertion

The process for obtaining a divorce is administrated by the Family Court. However, unless the divorce is defended, the process is a paper exercise, not requiring the parties to actually attend Court.  Undefended divorces are currently taking about seven months from Petition to Decree Absolute.

An alternative for those not ready for divorce, is the drawing up of a Deed of Separation which is able to resolve financial issues and those relating to children in an amicable cost-effective way.  However, it is important to know that in any subsequent divorce proceedings the Court will not be strictly bound by the terms of any Deed of Separation.  The Court would need to ensure that the needs of the children or parties are met and that the ultimate outcome at that time is fair.  However, the Court will take into account the terms of any Deed of Separation.

Our Approach

Obtaining advice from a legal professional with family experience early in the process is important because it enables you to make informed decisions and to understand the options available to you. One of our experienced team will support you through each stage, keeping you up to date with progress and costs.


  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Settlement agreements


How long does a Divorce take?

The divorce process, although not requiring any Court attendance, will typically take between six and eight months from the filing of the divorce petition to the granting of the Decree Absolute.


What are the grounds for Divorce?

  1. Adultery
  2. Behaviour such that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent
  3. Two years’ desertion
  4. Two years’ separation with consent of the respondent/other spouse
  5. Five years’ separation with or without the consent of the respondent/other spouse.

It must also be noted that a divorce petition cannot be presented for issue within the first year of marriage.


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