Chapter 3 Key facts checklists

Divorce, dissolution, and judicial separation

 Divorce is the legal end of a marriage. A civil partnership is ended by dissolution.

 The only ground for a divorce or dissolution is irretrievable breakdown.

 Five facts can be used to prove a marriage has irretrievably broken down: adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent, and five years’ separation.

• You cannot use adultery to prove that a civil partnership has irretrievably broken down, but the other four facts can be used.Adultery does apply to same sex marriages but it must involve a man and a woman: it cannot be between two people of the same sex.

 Behaviour, adultery, and desertion are fault-based: one party is blamed for the breakdown of the marriage. The two types of separation do not involve blaming one party.

 Under the current law, behaviour and adultery allow for the quickest divorces. This means that divorce based on fault is quicker than no-fault divorce. This has led to a number of calls for reform.

 The Family Law Act 1996 aimed to introduce a system of no-fault divorce. The divorce provisions did not come into force and have now been repealed. The domestic violence provisions contained within the same Act did come into force.

 Judicial separation can be used as an alternative to divorce. It grants the court power to make orders relating to finances (except for pensions) and to children but it does not bring the marriage to an end.