Divorce, dissolution and Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage’s wife has recently confirmed that they have been “living separate lives for years” but what are Mrs Farage’s options for obtaining a divorce and evidencing that her marriage has irretrievably broken down? Most likely, one of them will rely on the fact of their separation to obtain a divorce. Depending on how long they have been “living separate lives” they can seek to divorce on the basis of either 2 or 5 years separation.
Establishing two years’ separation with consent
Two years’ separation together with Nigel’s consent to the divorce proceedings is one of the five facts Mrs Farage can rely on to prove her marriage has broken down irretrievably.
To establish this fact, Mrs Farage must prove the following:
- They have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before the petition is filed at court; and
- Her husband consents to the divorce.
Consent must be given in writing and can be provided at any time after the petition has been served on the other party. Usually consent is given in the acknowledgment of service form confirming receipt of the petition. If so, Nigel must sign the acknowledgment of service as well as his legal representative. Consent does not have to be provided in the acknowledgment of service, but it must be clearly evidenced in writing (perhaps in a signed letter from the respondent) as consent will not be implied. Consent can be conditional, for example, on Mrs Farage agreeing not to seek an order for the costs of the divorce proceedings.
Consent may be withdrawn at any time before a decree is pronounced and a reason does not need to be provided. Withdrawing consent once decree nisi has been pronounced is unlikely to be effective. However, even after decree nisi has been pronounced, the court can rescind the decree nisi on Nigel’s application, if satisfied Mrs Farage misled him (intentionally or unintentionally) about any matter he took into account when deciding whether to consent. This may relate to a financial or non-financial matter. In most cases, the court will grant the decree absolute even if he has been misled, provided this has no serious consequences.
Establishing five years’ separation
Five years’ separation is another of the five facts Mrs Farage can rely on to prove her marriage has broken down irretrievably.
To establish this fact, they must have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the petition is filed at court. Mrs Farage does not need her husband’s consent to the divorce proceedings. If he wishes to defend the proceedings, he can deny there has been a separation of five years or raise the defence of grave hardship, although the likelihood of that affecting Nigel Farage is remote!
The Farage’s will be treated as living apart unless they are living in the same household. Even if they were living in the same house, they can be living apart if they are leading completely separate lives. Living apart in the same household can be evidenced by the fact they no longer do the following:
- Sleep together;
- Cook and eat together;
- Watch television together; and
- Carry out domestic chores such as cleaning, washing and ironing for one another.
Effect of cohabitation
If the Farage’s have lived together in the same household (cohabited) for a period, or periods, adding up to six months or less, the court will ignore that cohabitation when considering the period of separation. However, periods during which they cohabit do not count as part of the period of separation. They must have lived separate and apart for at least two years, or five years if seeking to rely on that ground.
Financial position of the respondent
If either two years’ or five years’ separation are the only facts on which Mrs Farage can rely to evidence the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (meaning there has been no adultery, no unreasonable behaviour and no desertion) and decree nisi has already been pronounced, Nigel may ask the court to consider his financial position following the divorce.
Financial hardship as a means of delaying a divorce is a complex area, and the likelihood of successfully preventing the divorce proceeding varies from case to case. We would strongly advise anyone who thinks that they will suffer financially as a result of a divorce to speak to a member of our specialist family team to seek advice on their options.
The length of time the parties have been separated is relevant. The court has emphasised the desirability of ending “empty ties” and bringing marriages that are “empty shells” to an end and it is for this reason that obtaining a divorce based on five years’ separation is one of the most amicable and straightforward grounds for obtaining a divorce. It is also worth noting that whether Mr or Mrs Farage petition for divorce, it will have no impact on any financial settlement as the court will not have any regard for who is the petitioner and who is the respondent when considering the division of matrimonial assets.