How to Start Divorce Proceedings

Once a marriage has completely broken down, one or both parties usually file for divorce.  It is a good idea to consult with family lawyers to find out the best way to proceed. Most will tell you that there must be a separation of 12 months before you can start divorce proceedings. In fact, this cannot be done until 12 months and one day after the separation.

Fortunately for those people who would find it financially difficult to live somewhere else, a couple can be legally separated while still residing in the same home. The court may require proof of separation and this can be given in several ways.

  • Using a sworn witness such as family or a friend you told about the separation when it started.
  • You now have separate finances
  • Meals are prepared and eaten separately
  • Domestic duties are not carried out on behalf of each other
  • You don’t go out or entertain friends together
  • You no longer sleep in the same room

These days the family court will grant a divorce without any reason except ‘irretrievable breakdown.’ They do not apportion blame or judgement to either party. This takes a great deal of stress out of the procedure.

On the day the separation commences you need to inform your spouse that the marriage is over and keep that date in mind or write it down so you can be sure of filing for divorce on the exact day after that date the next year.  Once the decision has been made to divorce, there is no point dragging it out, unless you are unsure of your decision.

So to start divorce proceedings you need first to separate as described above, then you need to apply for a divorce to the Family Court. This can be done online if you have access to a computer and the Internet. If you don’t, you’ll need to contact the Family Court Registry and ask for Divorce Application forms.

If your spouse is not filing for a divorce with you, it will be necessary to provide him or her with copies of the filed divorce application forms. There will be a fee to pay when you file the forms with the court, however this can be reduced for those who are suffering financial hardship or are on certain government benefits.

Simply filing the documents doesn’t mean the divorce is final. You will need to go to court on the date provided, which will usually be 1-3 months after you’ve filed the application. If you have no children under the age of 18 and your spouse does not disagree with the divorce, you won’t have to go to court. In this case, be sure to tick the box on the form that says you don’t want to go to court.