Family Law Hub

Divorce Procedure

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  • The Attorney General appealed from a decision to pronounce a decree nisi of nullity, following an Islamic marriage ceremony which the parties had known was of no legal effect. The couple had reached an agreed settlement, and so took no part in the appeal. A petitioner in separate nullity proceedings had been given permission to intervene, as were the campaign group Southall Black Sisters. The first issue was whether there are ceremonies or other acts which do not create a marriage, even a void marriage, within the scope of section 11 of the 1973 Act. The court concluded that there could be such ceremonies, and that they would not entitle the parties to a decree of nullity. The second issue was whether the ceremony in this case had been a non-marriage (or as the court preferred, non-qualifying ceremony) or a void marriage. A non-marriage would create no separate legal rights while a decree of nullity with regard to a void marriage would entitle a party to apply for financial remedy orders under the 1973 Act. Sir Terence Etherton MR, King LJ and Moylan LJ concluded that this had been a non-qualifying ceremony. The judge's order was set aside as there had been no ceremony in respect of which a decree of nullity could be granted. Judgment, 17/02/2020, free
  • The Bill makes important changes to the legal process for married couples to obtain a divorce, for civil partners to dissolve their civil partnership, or for obtaining a judicial separation. News, 09/01/2020, free
  • Divorcing couples will no longer have to blame one another for the breakdown of their marriage as a Bill that seeks to reduce family conflict enters Parliament today (7 January 2020). News, 08/01/2020, free
  • The case concerned an application by the husband to set aside: a) an order for deemed service of a divorce petition; b) all orders which stemmed from that petition (certificate of entitlement, decree nisi, decree absolute). The question for the court was: did the alleged procedural errors in service render the orders void or voidable? The court concluded that: a) under the Family Procedure Rules (“FPR”) the alleged errors in service would not necessarily render these orders void; b) when considering the prejudice to both parties, this was not a case where the orders were void; d) if the orders were voidable the court would not exercise its discretion and set aside the orders. The husband’s application was dismissed. News, 13/12/2019, free
  • The husband applied for various orders relating to a divorce to be set aside, including the decree absolute. He challenged the deemed service of the divorce petition. The wife had been granted the divorce in England and then remarried, while the husband had later petitioned for divorce in Scotland. If the earlier divorce was set aside, the husband would retain a right of residence due to the marriage exceeding three years in length. Lieven J DBE held that to the extent that there had been any procedural errors in this case, they did not render the subsequent orders void, and to the extent that they rendered them voidable she declined to exercise her discretion to set them aside. Judgment, 23/10/2019, free

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