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Leading Divorce Solicitors in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Solicitors

Divorce in Northern Ireland

When a marriage has unfortunately broken down, obtaining a divorce allows for the dignified dissolution of the marriage and legally it is only when a Divorce is obtained that a marriage comes to an end.

The ending of a marriage can be one of the most emotional and stressful experiences that a person can go through in life.  This is especially the case when the breakup is not amicable.  At SG Murphy Solicitors we bring a combination of empathy, communication, support, experience, knowledge, determination and skills to ensure your rights are upheld and the process is as quick and stress free as possible.

We are here to help.  Contact us now on 028 90 36 5595

Why Choose SG Murphy

Read our Five Star reviews  to see why hundreds of clients across Northern Ireland continually choose SG Murphy solicitors to represent and advise them.

Our business grows by our customers recommending us.  Our satisfied clients trust us to the extent they refer us to their friends and family, knowing we will do a similarly excellent job for them.  

Our solicitors are specialised, experienced and focused on achieving results that meet ours and our clients’ high expectations.  

Check out our reviews for yourself.


We are here to help.  Contact us now on 028 90 36 5595

What are the grounds for Divorce?

To obtain a Divorce the court must be satisfied of the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage“.  To prove irretrievable breakdown, one of the following 5 grounds must be proven.  These 5 facts include both fault based facts and non fault based facts.

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. 2 years separation with the consent of the other spouse
  5. 5 years separation (consent not required)

What information and documentation is needed to start Divorce proceedings?

At the start of the process we will sit down with you to gather as much information as is needed to allow the Divorce petition and ancillary forms to be drafted.  This will include information such as when and where you were married, where you last lived together as a couple, when you separated, full details of the ground for your divorce, details of all children you have had together etc.

In addition we need the following documentation to lodge with the court to start the Divorce process:

  • Marriage/Civil Partnership certificate
  • Birth certificates for children under 18
  • Any matrimonial agreements that are to be made a rule of court
  • Any previous court orders about your marriage/civil partnership
  • Divorce petition and ancillary forms
  • Court fee

Steps in the Divorce process

Service of the Divorce petition on your spouse

Once the Divorce papers have been processed and returned by the court office, the next step is to serve those papers on the spouse.

Once served he/she will have 14 days to lodge in court a form called the M6 Acknowledgement of Service.  In the Acknowledgement of Service your spouse will indicate whether they intend to contest the case or not and will confirm their position in respect of the costs of the Divorce proceedings.

If your spouse refuses to return the Acknowledgement of Service then an application needs to be made to the court to prove that the Divorce petition was served properly on the spouse.



Once everything is ready to proceed to a hearing, the court will ask that a certificate of readiness is filed along with a court fee.  You will then be provided with a hearing date.

What will happen at the hearing depends a lot on whether or not your spouse is contesting.  If your spouse is not contesting the divorce then you will be asked to first of all take a religious oath or make an affirmation.  You will then be taken through the divorce petition by your solicitor and asked to verify the facts contained within same.

If your spouse contests the petition, then you may be asked to give evidence and be cross examined by your spouse’s legal representative.

If the court finds that one of the 5 grounds for divorce are proved then the court will find that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and will grant the divorce.


The Decree Absolute 

If the Divorce is granted the court will then issue an order called the Decree Nisi.  Your divorce however is not finalised until the court grants the Decree Absolute.  You have to wait a period of 6 weeks and one day before you can apply to the court for the Decree Absolute.  The Decree Absolute is the legal end of the marriage.  Sometimes there can be a delay before applying for a decree absolute as there are outstanding financial matters related to the break up of the marriage that have to be dealt with.

We are here to help.  Contact us now on 028 90 36 5595

What divorce, matrimonial and family law issues can SG Murphy Solicitors help you with?

SG Murphy Solicitors are specially trained and experienced in Family Law, Divorce and Matrimonial matters.  We bring a focus on results, communication, support and empathy to our work to ensure your satisfaction.

Here are some of the matters that we can help you with

Matrimonial & Divorce

  • Matrimonial Agreements
  • Divorce
  • Pre-nuptial Agreements
  • Defending Divorce proceedings
Children Care Orders

Children & Public Law

  • Supervision Orders
  • Care Orders
  • Relocation Proceedings

We are here to help.  Contact us now on 028 90 36 5595

Medical Negligence

Steps in a Divorce

1. Initial Free Consultation

Speak to us, free of charge.  Our team of experts will advise you of the steps needed to obtain a divorce.  They will also advise you if Legal Aid may be available.

2. Drafting the Divorce petition

We will take full details from you about the marriage and circumstances of the breakup to allow us to draft the Divorce petition and then file it in court.

3. Serve the Divorce petition

Once it is returned from the court we will serve the Divorce petition on your spouse. 

4. Hearing

When everything is ready we will request a court date.  At court evidence will be given regarding the breakdown of the marriage.  If the court accepts there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage the court will grant a Decree Nisi. 

4. Decree Absolute

6 weeks and one day after the granting of the Decree Nisi, you can apply for the Decree Absolute, which is the official order that your marriage has ended.

How long does a divorce take?

It is very difficult to provide a specific timeframe for how long the divorce process will take.  It will depend on many factors such as the co-operation or lack of from your spouse, whether your spouse is consenting to the divorce and the financial arrangements.  The process can take from 9 months upwards to a number of years.

We will keep you informed throughout of the anticipated timeframe in your particular case.  

Can I obtain Legal Aid for my Divorce case?

Legal Aid may be available for your Divorce claim depending on your financial circumstances and the details of your case.  During our Free initial consultation we will advise you as to whether you may be eligible for legal aid.

What if my spouse will not consent to the Divorce?

If you are relying on the ground of 2 years separation with consent, you will need the consent of your spouse to proceed with the divorce.  If you are relying on the ground of 5 years separation, then your spouse’s consent is not required and you can proceed to divorce them.  

If you are relying on one of the remaining grounds then your case will be contested and at hearing you will have to give evidence to prove the facts to allow the Judge to grant the decree of divorce.

Can I get divorced in Northern Ireland if I got married in another country?

Yes, where you got married does not effect whether you can get a divorce in Northern Ireland.  What matters to the court is your nationality or where you and your partner usually live. 

Is it possible to divorce my spouse if they live in another country?

The rules are complex but yes you can.  However you may find you are in the position where the divorce proceeds in the other country.  It may be the case that you and your spouse have a choice of country, in which case who applies first to court for divorce may be crucial.  It may be the case that where there are competing sets of proceedings, the one that takes precedence is the jurisdiction with the closest connection with the couple.

How do I protect myself from my spouse abusing me?

If you are the victim of physical, emotional or psychological abuse, SG Murphy Solicitors can apply to court to protect you from your abusive spouse.  This can include applying for a non-molestation order, which prevents an abusive spouse from harassing or molesting you in anyway and an occupation order which will remove your partner from your shared home.  

How can I apply for a Divorce with SG Murphy Solicitors?

To book your free initial consultation with a specialised solicitor at SG Murphy Solicitors contact us now on 028 90 36 5595 or by email at law@sgmurphysolicitors.com .  


We are here to help.  Contact us now on 028 90 36 5595

Financial and Ancillary relief in Divorce

Divorce proceedings end the marriage but they do not finalise the distribution of the matrimonial assets and the financial relationship between the parties. In order to do that a couple can settle their financial arrangements through a Matrimonial Agreement, which sets out how the couple have agreed to split the assets of their marriage. If an Agreement cannot be found, then court proceedings called Ancillary Relief proceedings need to be issued to allow the court to decide how the assets will be divided.

What is a Matrimonial agreement?

This expert article on Matrimonial Agreements … sets out in detail what a Matrimonial agreement is and what is needed to finalise one.  But in simple terms a Matrimonial Agreement is an out of court settlement agreement which sets out in detail the division of the assets of the marriage.  

The aim of a Matrimonial agreement is to sever all financial ties between the couple and prevent any future claim by either spouse.

If a Judge approves the Matrimonial agreement in court then it will become binding on both spouses.

What happens to the family home with a divorce?

In most divorces the Family home is the biggest asset to be divided.  The starting point in any division of the family home is 50/50, but that may change depending on a number of factors such as who has care of the children of the family.

Sometimes one spouse may agree to “buy out” the other spouse’s share of the house, or the house may need to be sold and any equity divided in their respective shares to the spouses.  In certain circumstances the court may make an order that the property is not sold until a certain point of time in the future, such as the youngest child finishing education and the primary carer is allowed to remain living in the home until that date. 

What can I do if my spouse is disposing of assets because of the divorce?

If your spouse is deliberately disposing of assets to avoid your entitlement to a share of those assets in the divorce then you can apply to the court for a Mareva Injunction.  A Mareva Injunction, if granted, has the effect of freezing assets of your spouse, therefore preventing your spouse from deliberately disposing of them. 

How are pensions treated in a divorce?

Both spouses’ pensions are treated as part of the matrimonial assets to be considered.  Where one spouse is entitled to a share of the other spouse’s pension, this can be done through a Pension sharing order or through off-setting.

In a Pension Sharing Order, a percentage of the pension fund is separated for the receiving spouse to benefit from on retirement.

With off-setting, the spouse can off-set the other spouse’s interest in their pension by allocating other assets of the same or similar value.


You deserve to be represented by a legal team that are determined to ensure you get the best possible resolution following the breakup of your marriage. We focus therefore on achieving results that we can be proud of and you satisfied with.

We Take Care

Divorce and ancillary relief proceedings can be one of the most distressing experiences in your life, that is why at why at McCann Law we bring a level of empathy, support and communication that will make the process as stress free as possible.


McCann Law are specialised and highly trained Divorce and Matrimonial lawyers, meaning you can be confident your case is in strong hands.

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership, which sets out who owns what in respect of the couple’s assets, money and property and sets out how these will be divided if the relationship should break down.

Pre-nuptial agreements are currently not legally enforceable in Northern Ireland, but they can be taken into consideration.

What happens with a family business in divorce?

A family business like any other asset is taken into consideration in the division of the assets during divorce.  The business will have to be valued, normally by an independent forensic accountant.

How can I get help from SG Murphy Solicitors?

To book your free initial consultation with a specialised solicitor at SG Murphy Solicitors contact us now on 028 90 36 5595 or by email on 028 90 36 5595 .  


Let us help you!

If you need help with any legal matter, please contact us now to speak to an expert solicitor.

Call : 028 90 365595

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SG Murphy Solicitors

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