Two years' separation
Two years' separation

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

  • Two years' separation
  • Living apart
  • Calculating the two-year period
  • The respondent's consent
  • Rescission of decree nisi
  • Restriction on decree being made absolute
  • Defective divorce petitions or decrees
  • Divorce law reform

The Family Procedure Rules 2010, SI 2010/2955 (FPR 2010) have introduced a change in the terminology in divorce proceedings. There are, however, some inconsistencies between the terminology used in the rules, which use the new terms, and those referred to in the forms which refer to old terms. Divorce proceedings are referred to as matrimonial proceedings.

Proceedings for divorce (or a matrimonial order) must be commenced by an application for a matrimonial order which is still referred to in the forms as a petition. The petitioner is also referred to as the applicant.FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 2.3FPR 2010, PD 5AFPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 5.1

Irretrievable breakdown may be proved by satisfying the court that the petitioner and the respondent have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and that the respondent consents to a decree.MCA 1973, s 1(2)(d)

Living apart

The parties will be treated as living apart if they are not living in the same household. They may live under the same roof but must not be sharing a common life together, eg sharing meals. Clients should be advised of the need to live separately as they will be required to provide details of the arrangements in the affidavit in support of the petition. Living separately generally includes separate meals, washing and financial arrangements.MCA 1973, s 2(6)Mouncer v Mouncer [1972] 1 All ER 289

For further information, see:

Family Law Service > Relationships and their Breakdown > 1A Narrative > Chapter 5 Grounds for proceedings in divorce and judicial separation > A Divorce, para [2104]

Calculating the two-year