Family law is the area of law which deals with the separation of families. The legislation controlling divorce itself is to be found in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which states that a marriage can be dissolved only if it has broken down irretrievably. In order to demonstrate irretrievable breakdown of a marriage it is necessary for the person wishing to start proceedings for divorce to show one of five sets of circumstances have occurred:-
- the other person in the marriage has (within the preceding 6 months) committed adultery or
- the other person in the marriage has behaved in an unreasonable way, or
- the other person has left the family home and the departure took place over two years ago, or
- both husband and wife agree to divorce and they have lived apart for two years, or
- husband and wife lived apart for five years. (It does not matter if the person being divorced does not agree to the divorce, though agreement does make matters easier all round in the long run).
If you think you were forced into a marriage by family pressures and/or you have not had sexual intercourse with your spouse, you may be able to obtain a declaration of the court nullifying your marriage. You should also be aware that you cannot obtain a divorce until you have been married for one year, but you may be able to obtain a declaration of judicial separation which gives the court similar powers with regard to finances and children as the court would possess upon a divorce.