Divorce decrees allow both parties to a marriage to remarry or enter into civil partnerships. The court will grant the divorce decree if the required conditions have been met. In addition to issuing a decree of divorce, the court may also order arrangements for the custody of children, access to them, payment of maintenance and lump sums, transfer of property, debt settlements, pension rights, and extinguishment of succession rights.
Divorce can only be granted under the following conditions:
- You and your spouse must live apart from one another for at least 2 out of the previous 3 years before you can apply for divorce. Before 1 December 2019, this was 4 out of the previous 5 years.
- There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
- Proper arrangements must have been made or will be made for the spouse and any dependent members of the family such as children of either party and other relatives.
The court may grant a divorce decree to either party if these conditions are met.
Due to the fact that separating couples have to live separate lives for several years before seeking a divorce, many obtain separation agreements or divorce orders to regulate their relationship before seeking a divorce.
During an application for a divorce, the court will review any previous arrangements made by the parties, including separation agreements, particularly if either party's circumstances have changed.
Divorce decrees cannot be reversed once they are granted. Both parties can apply to court for a court review of any orders made under the decree, such as maintenance.