Amicable separation – what counts for divorce?

Posted by Laura Bennett on
Millie Mackintosh, and her husband Professor Green (Stephen Manderson) have announced their separation after two years of marriage.  They have said in a statement: "It is a mutual decision, we still care deeply about each other and would like it to be known it is on amicable terms and we wish each other well".

It is always reassuring to read that couples who are separating in the public eye wish to keep matters amicable and avoid unnecessary dispute. I applaud Millie and Stephen for doing this, as it must be a lot harder when in the public eye. But, this marks the start of a long process for the couple.

One point that the couple may need to negotiate is the actual divorce reason, if they want to get divorced soon. Regular readers of our blog will be aware that a divorce is only granted if one party is able to prove to the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which is evidenced by one of five 'grounds for divorce', as noted in my previous blog.

Whilst Millie and Professor Green are separating 'mutually', in reality they will need to wait for two years before one of them is able to file a divorce petition on the basis that they have been separated for two years and that the other person consents to the divorce.  The alternative if one of them wishes to begin divorce proceedings immediately is to rely on the 'fault' of the other, most usually the fact that the other person has behaved unreasonably.

As a member of Resolution, the Family Lawyers' organisation promoting constructive and non-confrontational practice, I am committed to a non-confrontation approach to the negotiation of a financial settlement and encourage my clients to attend mediation wherever possible.  The Family team at Blake Morgan are enthusiastic supporters of mediation and indeed we supported Family Mediation Week in January.

Blake Morgan has written previously, about the proposal to introduce a 'no fault' divorce system which would allow couples to divorce by consent without waiting for two years.  In my view, the system can't come soon enough in order to ensure that couples are able to truly separate on amicable terms and move on with their lives.

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Laura is a Senior Solicitor in the Family team based in Oxford.

Laura Bennett
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