There are plans to modernise the divorce laws in Guernsey, but currently there is one ground for divorce: that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
This ground can be demonstrated one of five ways:
- That one party has committed adultery and the other party finds it intolerable to live with them;
- That one party has behaved in such a way that the other cannot be reasonably expected to live with them (sometimes called “unreasonable behaviour”);
- That one party has deserted the other for two years;
- That both parties have lived apart for two years and both consent to the divorce; and
- That both parties have lived apart for five years (whether or not both consent to the divorce).
If both parties consent to the divorce but there has been no adultery or unreasonable behaviour, then a divorce cannot be granted until they have lived apart, and not as a couple, for at least two years. Divorce can only be obtained without a period of separation if adultery or some degree of unreasonable behaviour can be shown.
In most cases, the legal process of the divorce itself is simple. Matters can be complicated by splitting finances afterwards, and if there are children involved, deciding contact and who they will live with. It is always best to speak to an advocate, as they can advise you on the law and what you are entitled to, and, if necessary, assist you with applications to court.
The law is currently under review as some people think couples who wish to divorce should be able to do so immediately, without having to show that one person has behaved unreasonably. When it does, Ferbrache & Farrell will be at the forefront of those changes and is ready to advise you during what can be a difficult and stressful time.