Leaving An Abusive Marriage – Where to Start

On March 12th 2020, the Ministry of Justice announced that they would be taking steps to allow broadcasts of divorce proceedings live from courtrooms. It is hoped that this step will raise transparency and understanding in the legal process of divorce, whilst explaining the full role of the justice system. With divorce figures on the rise and domestic abuse a worrying cause of separation, this is good news for a fair consideration of a divorce case.

I want to get divorced – where do I start?

In order to be able to separate, divorce law uk stipulates that you must fulfil certain requirements. These requirements are:

  • That you have been married for at least 12 months
  • That one member of the marriage is living in England or Wales, or if living abroad then you must consider England or Wales to be your permanent home.
  • That you satisfy the court that you qualify for at least one of the grounds for divorce.

What are the grounds for divorce?

If you are trapped in an abusive relationship, then unreasonable behaviour is most likely the best option when you are filing for divorce. This is because it allows you to legally divorce without needing to be separated for at least 2 years before your divorce is officially allowed. In the UK, the full grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery

You must be able to prove that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse.

  • Unreasonable behaviour

You must be able to prove that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This could include instances of excessive drinking and domestic or financial abuse.

  • Desertion

This ground for divorce is almost never used because it includes the process of proving that a spouse had a mental intent to divorce throughout the two year period that they had deserted their partner for.

  • 2 year separation with consent

If you and your partner have agreed to live apart for at least two years after the presentation of your divorce petition, and you both agree to a divorce, then this is then considered grounds for a divorce in the UK.

  • 5 years separation with no consent required

If you and your spouse have been living apart for five years after the presentation of your divorce petition then this is considered grounds for divorce, and your former partner does not have to consent.

What is a non-molestation order?

In extreme and sad cases, sometimes leaving an abusive marriage can mean more than just filing for divorce. A non-molestation order uk is a civil order that can be obtained by someone who has been the victim of domestic abuse. There are a few different reasons that someone might consider taking out a non-molestation order. These can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Controlling behaviour
  • Intimidating behaviour
  • Harassment

Someone who is a victim of this kind of behaviour can apply to the court for a non-molestation order against someone who is legally defined as an ‘associated person’. This can include not just spouses and ex-spouses but also:

  • Civil partners/ex-civil partners
  • Cohabitees/Former cohabitees
  • Family members

The order means that the accused cannot take certain actions against the victim, such as approach them or visit their house. It can also be ordered that they do not contact the victim on the phone or on social media. There is a time limit on how long this order lasts, but you can apply for an extension before it expires if you feel that you would still need protection.

Taking the next steps

Leaving an abusive marriage is the best step you can take to starting the next part of your life afresh. The very best legal advice can help you to make the right choices for your own safety. Contact specialist family law solicitors today.