The ground for divorce
The ground for divorce

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The ground for divorce
  • Bar on petition for divorce within one year of marriage
  • Irretrievable breakdown
  • Facts sufficient on which to grant a decree
  • Divorce law reform

Bar on petition for divorce within one year of marriage

A petition for divorce cannot be presented to the court before the expiration of one year from the date of marriage.This is an absolute bar.

Where a petition has been issued in breach of section 3(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) it is null and void and a court has no jurisdiction to entertain it; with the consequence that any decree nisi or decree absolute purportedly granted is likewise null and void and nor can the petition or application be subsequently amended. Consequently if a party has subsequently remarried that marriage is invalid.

As a consequence of a number of cases having been brought to the attention of the President of the Family Division, where decrees nisi and absolute have been granted notwithstanding that:

  1. the petition, in breach of MCA 1973, s 3, had been issued within one year of the marriage, or

  2. although there had been no breach of MCA 1973, s 3, the relevant period prior to the presentation of the petition specified in MCA 1973, s 1(2)(d) (living apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition) or MCA 1973, s 1(2)(e) (living apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation