1.Q: I would like a divorce, what should I do? Is it a must to hire a lawyer for a divorce?
A: It is not a must to hire a lawyer for a divorce but in order to protect your own interest, it is best to consult a lawyer first before applying for a divorce especially when your spouse does not agree to a divorce and neither of you can agree on the arrangement to be made for the children on financial matters.
In seeking legal advice, you may wish to take advantage of the Legal Aid Scheme administered by the Legal Aid Department or alternatively choose your own solicitor. Upon approval by the Legal Aid Department, a law firm in private practice may be assigned by the Legal Aid Department to assist you with your divorce case. You can find out more from the website of the Legal Aid Department. The Duty Lawyer Service’s free Legal Advice Scheme provides members of the public preliminary legal advice including matrimonial law in District Offices.
2. Q: How soon after marriage can I petition for divorce?
A: Unless the court allows otherwise, you can start a petition for divorce only if you have been married for at least 1 year.
3.Q: Must I explain why I want a divorce?
A: Yes, you must be able to prove that you have reasons (or “grounds”) for saying that the marriage is an end. The term the court uses is “the marriage has irretrievably broken down”. The court will accept one or more of the following grounds as proof:
- that your spouse has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with him/her
- that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with him/her
- that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 1 year before filing the petition and that he / she agrees to a divorce
- that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years before filing the petition (in such a case your spouse’s consent to a divorce is not required)
- that your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 1 year before filing the petition
- In the case of a joint application, you and your spouse must prove to the court (a) that you have lived apart from each other for a continuous period of at least 1 year before making the application; or (b) that not less than 1 year prior to the making of the application a notice (Form 2E) signed by each of such parties was given to the court and that the notice was not subsequently withdrawn
If there are children of the family who are under the age of 18, you must include in your petition your proposal as to their custody and access. If you wish to apply for ancillary relief such as maintenance, transfer of property, division of matrimonial assets, etc. you should also pray so in your petition.