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Choosing the best way to start a divorce


According to a recent newspaper article, social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo are being relied upon in divorce petitions as the cause of marital breakdown.

E:mails and messages demonstrating inappropriate behaviour or flirting on these websites are, according to one on-line divorce website, increasingly cited as evidence of unreasonable behaviour.  Not only that, but individuals are using these sites to communicate their intention to divorce to their spouse.

Whilst the intervention of social networking websites in the divorce process may be a sign of the times, it is worth considering this against the actual evidence that is required for a divorce and the most appropriate way in which an individual's intention to divorce can be communicated.

‘Unreasonable behaviour', for the purposes of a divorce, can mean a number of things.  Importantly, the behaviour should not only be unreasonable but it must make it intolerable to live with the other person. The behaviour can be violent but all sorts of other anti social behaviour can be sufficient.  Incidents which may seem trivial in isolation can amount to behaviour when taken as a whole.

Unreasonable behaviour might not, however, always be the appropriate basis for a divorce.  There are four other facts upon which a petition for divorce may be presented.  These are adultery, separation of two years (with the other party consenting to the divorce), separation of five years (no consent required) and desertion.

Careful consideration should be given to the most appropriate fact to rely upon when issuing a divorce petition.  For example, on how many occasions has unreasonable behaviour been demonstrated and over what period?  Are the parties still living together?  Has adultery been admitted or would it need to be proven?  Have the parties been separated for a sufficient amount of time and would consent be given?

How a divorce petition is prepared is essential, but not just for the administrative purposes of obtaining a decree absolute.  It sets the tone for the entire case.  Announcing plans to divorce on the internet without prior warning would undoubtedly create animosity from the outset and this can impact upon negotiations relating to the children or to the marital finances.  This bad feeling can, in turn, create protracted negotiations and/or Court proceedings and so increase costs.  Whilst a Court application may be necessary in certain circumstances, there is no doubt that the choices made at the outset of the case as to how the case should be run can, and do, have a major impact upon the time it takes to settle, the costs involved and the state of the individual at the end of the process.

At Clarion LLP, all of our family team are members of Resolution and adhere to the Code of Practice which promotes dealing with divorce in a non confrontational manner.  This includes, where appropriate, attempting to agree the content of the divorce petition with the other party prior to issue.  Nasty surprises, over the internet or otherwise, are avoided as our experience has shown that the prospect of a speedier, cheaper settlement is significantly increased when the parties can start the case on a positive footing.

If you would like any information about how to start a divorce, the process itself or if you have any other family related enquiries then you can contact a member of our family team on 0113 2223210.

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.