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Matrimonial Causes (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

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Divorce on breakdown of marriageN.I.

3.—(1) Subject to Article 5, a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

(2) The court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the following facts, that is to say—

(a)that, since the date of the marriage, the respondent has committed adultery;

(b)that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

(c)that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

(d)that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition (hereafter in this Order referred to as “two years' separation”) and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;

(e)that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition (hereafter in this Order referred to as “five years' separation”).

(3) On a petition for divorce it shall be the duty of the court to inquire, so far as it reasonably can, into the facts alleged by the petitioner and into any facts alleged by the respondent, and, subject to paragraph (4), the court shall not grant a decree of divorce without considering the oral testimony of the petitioner.

(4) The provision of paragraph (3) requiring the court to consider the oral testimony of the petitioner shall not applyF1 in any particular case where the court for special reasons orders that such testimony be dispensed with.

(5) If the court is satisfied on the evidence of any such fact as is mentioned in paragraph (2), then, unless it is satisfied on all the evidence that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably, it shall, subject to[F2 Articles 4(2) and 7], grant a decree of divorce.

(6) Every decree of divorce shall in the first instance be a decree nisi and shall not be made absolute before the expiration of six weeks from its grant unless in any particular case the court by order fixes a shorter period.

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F1prosp. subst. by 1993 NI 6

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