Are you wondering if you can get a divorce without your spouse’s consent? Actually you can, either spouse can file a single petition without consent of the other party but not without their knowledge. It is unavoidable that your spouse will eventually learn of your intentions once the divorce papers has been served on the unknowing spouse.
Filing a petition of this nature is slightly more complicated, costly and time-consuming than joint petitions due to its one-sided nature where most of which can be attributed to the absence of mutuality of both spouses.
Failing to respond to the spouse’s divorce petition will delay the process but not prevent divorce altogether. Many things can delay the divorce process, but eventually the marriage can be legally ended whether the parties involved like it or not.
Parties who intend to file a single petition must first demonstrate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by showing one of the following grounds namely:-
- The other party has committed adultery;
- The other party has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner could not reasonably be expected to live with the other party;
- The other party has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years before the presentation of the Single Divorce Petition; and
- Both parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the presentation of the Single Divorce Petition.
The parties are also required to initiate reconciliation proceedings by making an application to the Tribunal of Reconciliation of Marriage at the National Registration Department. The tribunal will then endeavour to resolve / persuade the spouses to reconcile through counselling sessions. However, if this process fails a certificate will be formally issued by the tribunal granting the parties the avenue to proceed with a divorce.
A divorce petition can then be filed by either one of the spouses and similarly a hearing date will be set for the court to consider the petition and give directions / make decisions on matters relating to custodianship of children, child maintenance, spousal alimony, division of matrimonial property etc (if any). Following which the court may grant a decree of divorce having been satisfied that the marriage should be dissolved.
This article was written by Aileen Lau . Aileen heads the family law practice at Donovan & Ho. She has extensive experience in both contested and uncontested divorce proceedings, and has advised clients on family law matters ranging from child custody, adoption, payment of alimony and division of matrimonial property.
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