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Family Law

Married at First Sight

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The new series of the popular reality TV show ‘Married at First Sight UK’ began this week on E4. In this show, couples are matched with their future ‘spouses’ by researchers and meet them for the first when walking down the aisle to get married.

The show then follows how the ‘married couples’ relationship has gone over several months and then the couple decide whether they wish to stay married to one another long term.

Whilst the couple do attend a formal wedding with witnesses, they do not sign an actual marriage certificate which is the final component which registers a couple as legally married. The marriage in law is therefore considered as a void marriage. This therefore means at any point in time either party can walk away from the ‘marriage’, without any legal ramifications.

Jonathan Fuller, Family Law Solicitor at Samuel Phillips Law outlines how the position is different in real life below;

How long must married couples wait to get divorced?

Once couples are married in England & Wales, they must wait at least a year (12 months) from the date of marriage to apply for a divorce.

Who can file for divorce?

Since April 2022, ‘No Fault Divorce’ has been introduced which allows one spouse or spouses jointly to file a divorce petition without the need to specify a reason on why the marriage irretrievably broke down.

Previously one spouse had to specify a reason for the separation such as unreasonable behaviour of the other spouse, adultery or desertion to name a few.

If a sole or joint divorce petition is made by one party the other party will need to then file an Acknowledgement of Service stating that they agree to the divorce petition proceeding.

What are the timescales for getting a divorce?

Once an Acknowledgement of Service is completed by your spouse and assuming they do not indicate an intention to defend the proceedings, you can apply for the first stage of the two-part divorce order, Conditional Order (previously known as ‘Decree Nisi’). This application can only be made 20 weeks after the application has been issued.

Once 6 weeks and 1 day have elapsed from the date of the Conditional Order, you will be able to apply for the final decree of divorce, Final Order (previously known as ‘Decree Absolute’). This brings your marriage to an end and you are then formally divorced.

Before applying for a Final Order, you will also need to reach financial settlement with your spouse.

Once you have agreed a financial settlement with your spouse you will need to have this agreement drawn up in a Consent Order which will then need to be approved by a Judge to become legally binding.

If you would like advice or assistance on your own particular situation, then please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and supportive Family Law team on 0191 232 8451 or email familydepartment@samuelphillips.co.uk.

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