Last Updated on 28.1.21 by Shelley Bower
Nobody ever wants to find themselves going through a divorce, surveys consistently rank it to be one of the most stressful experiences you can face due to the emotional and financial pressure it can cause.
Divorce can often lead to heated and protracted disputes, which rarely leave either party better off in the short term or the long term. Knowing how to mitigate these arguments to keep the process running smoothly is vital in keeping both emotional strain and financial expenditure to a minimum.
Unfortunately, no-fault divorce presently doesn’t exist in England and Wales, therefore couples who don’t want to wait 2 years (where both parties consent) or 5 years (when one party doesn’t consent) have to rely on unreasonable behaviour even if the separation is amicable.
This system can make the process somewhat arduous and create acrimony, but whilst the law states that citing unreasonable behaviour means that there has to be some element of blame, there are practical ways to minimise upset.
I’ve seen numerous examples when the divorce is particularly contentious and an individual will have every detail of their behaviour, their indiscretions, their private life and other intimate information laid out on legal documents, this can get proceedings off to a hostile start.
Using unreasonable behaviour doesn’t have to be an all-out character assassination of the other person, it can simply be examples of behaviour that you would say are not what you expect of your spouse e.g. they did not socialise with you anymore, you did not have any real conversation or alone time, you had grown to have very different interests. You should look to give around 5 reasons to ensure you can show the court the marriage has ended and there is no prospect of reconciliation.
As long as no-fault divorce isn’t an option, there is never going to be a way of doing it that is completely complimentary, but avoiding more controversial reasons can keep divorce proceedings more civil. If you are communicating, tell your spouse you have had advice and that you have to give the court sufficient reasoning, it should not be interpreted as an attack. If appropriate, give them the heads up about what will be in it. If you are on very good terms, perhaps agree on some points between you to go into the Petition.
If you have a solicitor acting, ask them to forward a draft Petition to your spouse before sending to Court for issue. If they are a member of Resolution they should do this as this is the protocol. A solicitor can explain in a covering letter that it is not intended to be aggressive or inflammatory, but that as Petitioner a party is required to satisfy the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Essentially communication, where possible, is key. If your partner knows and understands what is in the Petition and why it will prevent there being any nasty surprises.