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. Our divorce solicitors offer expert support through this challenging period in your life, taking some of the weight off your shoulders and protecting your interests.
At SG Murphy Solicitors, we offer a combination of empathy, communication, support, experience, knowledge, determination and skills. Our team will ensure your rights are upheld and the process is as quick and stress free as possible. We can also support you with sorting out your finances so you can make a fresh start.
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Our divorce lawyers in Belfast are specialised, experienced and focused on achieving results that meet our and our clients’ high expectations. Looking for more information on unreasonable behaviour divorce in Northern Ireland? Get in touch now!
Our Belfast divorce lawyers can help you with:
Any of our professional divorce solicitors offer flexible funding options to suit your circumstances, helping you to cover the legal cost of your divorce.
Legal Aid may be available for your divorce depending on your financial circumstances and the details of your case. During our free initial consultation, our divorce lawyers will advise you as to whether you may be eligible for legal aid.
Speak to us, free of charge. One of our expert divorce lawyers will advise you of the steps needed to obtain a divorce. They will also advise you if Legal Aid may be available.
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.
Once it is returned from the court, we will serve the divorce petition on your spouse.
Once served, they 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.
When everything is ready, we will request a court date. This is done by filing a certificate of readiness along with a court fee. You will then be provided with a hearing date.
At court, evidence will be given regarding the breakdown of the marriage. What will happen at the hearing depends a lot on whether or not your spouse is contesting the divorce. 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 it.
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 accepts there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the court will grant a Decree Nisi.
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. Your divorce is not finalised until the court grants 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.
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 they 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.
We, at SG Murphy Solicitors, can provide expert divorce legal advice for the division of finances, making sure you achieve a settlement that matches your needs and those of any dependants.
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.
It is recommended to get expert divorce advice before starting proceedings to make sure you pick the right fact to rely on.
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:
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 support from your spouse, and 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.
Our divorce law solicitors will keep you informed throughout the anticipated time frame in your particular case.
If you are relying on the fact 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 fact 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 facts, 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.
Yes, where you got married does not affect 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.
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.
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 any way and an occupation order which will remove your partner from your shared home.
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.
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 to take care of any children.
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. The primary carer would then be allowed to remain living in the home until that date.
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 the assets of your spouse, therefore preventing your spouse from deliberately disposing of them.
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, such as the family home.
A pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple before they marry or enter into a civil partnership. It sets out who owns what in respect of the couple’s assets, money and property and 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 as long as they were prepared and signed in the right way.
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.
While you can handle your divorce yourself, it is a big risk to do so. The process can be complicated and stressful, so it is easy to make mistakes resulting in delays and causing yourself unnecessary anxiety. It is also vitally important to have a clear picture of all the ways in which divorce will impact you, especially financially.
A divorce lawyer can guide you through the entire divorce process, doing the hard work for you. They can also provide a clear explanation of all the issues you need to consider and support you with resolving matters such as the division of assets. This can make your divorce much easier on you, as well as give you the best chance of getting an outcome that matches your current and future needs.
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