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UKfamsol, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 560
Experience:  Very experienced specialist family law solicitor, qualifed in 1994
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Hi, myself and my husband were married on 29.07.10 and split

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Hi, myself and my husband were married on 29.07.10 and split up on 24.12.13 and ended our relationship due to me being unhappy in the relationship. He moved out on that date and approximately 2wks afterwards he started dating. We signed our separation agreement on 9.02.14 - at this stage he had been a relationship with new girl for approximately 3-4weeks. Can I file for divorce on grounds of adultery? Or do I have to wait for two years of being separated. We are both living in N Ireland.
Hello and thanks for question.

You do not have to wait 2 years. You can choose to base your divorce petition either on your husband's adultery - until you get the decree absolute, if he sleeps with another woman, he's committed adultery - or on his behaviour generally.

However, adultery can be tricky if he's not prepared to admit to it on the divorce papers as it's too expensive to prove it, so you or your solicitor needs to make sure that he agrees to admit to the adultery before the petiton is prepared and sent to court. If he will admit to the adultery, the petition can then be very brief, which is more amicable and easier for everyone.

In England & Wales, the co-respondent does not need to be named, and it's considered good practice not to name them, but I don't know if that's the case in Northern Ireland.

In a behaviour petition, the petitioner has to set out incidents of bad behaviour, which is not pleasant for the respondent to read, and so can make the divorce process less amicable, and negotiating about property & finance associated with the divorce more difficult.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks and best wishes...

UKfamsol and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Hello again

A colleague has pointed out ot me that I missed the reference to the separation agreement in your question, so I need to amend my answer to your question.

A separation agreement is not a legally-binding agreement - but it does depend on the trust of both parties. When the agreement is drawn up and signed by both of you, neither of you would have signed if you thought that the other would not stick to the agreement.

If the separation agreement includes an agreement to wait until you have been separated for two years before either one of you issues divorce proceedings, then if you go ahead now and issue your divorce petition on either adultery or behaviour, you would be breaking that agreement. Your husband might then feel that he can break other parts of the agreement relating to property & finance or anything else.

If all the assets have been distributed as agreed already, but you have breached the agreement by not waiting for two years before issung your divorce, then you risk your husband asking the court to look again at the financial settlement which could possibly then be changed by the court as a result.

Having said that, if the settlement was fair to both of you, and neither of your financial circumstances had changed from the date of the separation agreement to the date your husband decides to apply to the court for a financial order, the court is unlikely to make any changes to what was agreed. But that's the risk you take by issuing divirce proceeedings now if that would be in breach of the separation agreement.

Sorry to have to change my response to your question - I'll make sure I don't miss any points like that again.

I hope that helps now that I have given you a more thorough answer to your question.

Thanks and best wishes...