This is the likely timeframe for an undefended divorce under the current law:
- Divorce petition is filed at court and served on the other party (and co-respondent if adultery petition).
- The respondent (and co-respondent if relevant) returns the signed acknowledgment of service.
- After sixty days from filing of the petition, petitioner lists an application for provisional order of divorce.
- Brief hearing for granting of provisional order (parties not usually required to attend).
- Final order of divorce granted thirty-two days after the provisional order.
All divorces in Guernsey are dealt with in the Royal Court. For the Guernsey Court to have jurisdiction, at least one party has to be domiciled in the Bailiwick or habitually resident for at least twelve months immediately prior to the proceedings being issued.
The current grounds for divorce are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation and consent, two years’ desertion or five years’ living apart. The normal timescale for a divorce as set out above is three and a half months.
Radical changes to divorce law in Guernsey are imminent with the publication of the Matrimonial Causes (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2022. The new law will introduce ‘no fault’ divorce and will, for the first time, allow couples to file a joint petition and remove the ability to defend a divorce. Under the current law, divorcing couples sometimes pursue divorce proceedings on adultery or behaviour grounds in the mistaken belief that this will assist their case. The new divorce law sweeps away the ‘blame game’ and will hopefully help divorcing couples, leaving them to concentrate upon the really important issues, namely the children and finances.
The necessary rules, procedures and precedents are still awaited, and as yet no start date has been set for the new law to take effect.
All of these changes are widely welcomed by the legal profession and will hopefully be in place very soon. In the meantime, we are left with the old divorce law dating back to 1939.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in Guernsey in May 2017 with the passing of the Same-sex Marriage (Guernsey) Law, 2016.
Under this law, same-sex couples are able to marry and divorce in the same way as heterosexual couples. In addition, the marriage of a same-sex couple in another jurisdiction is fully recognised and financial orders on divorce can be granted by the Royal Court.
Please note, website content cannot be regarded as legal advice. If you have any doubt as to your legal position, Browns Family Law will be happy to advise.