Matrimonial Causes Act 1965

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1965 c. 72


Matrimonial CausesAct 1965

1965 CHAPTER 72

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to matrimonial causes, maintenance and declarations of legitimacy and British nationality, with corrections and improvements made under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act 1949.

[8th November 1965]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Divorce, nullity and other matrimonial suits

Part I

Divorce, nullity and other matrimonial suits

Divorce

Divorce

S-1 Grounds for petition.

1 Grounds for petition.

(1) Subject to the next following section, a petition for divorce may be presented to the High Court (hereafter in this Act referred to as ‘the court’)—

a ) by the husband or the wife on the ground that the respondent—

(i) has since the celebration of the marriage committed adultery; or

(ii) has deserted the petitioner without cause for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or

(iii) has since the celebration of the marriage treated the petitioner with cruelty; or

(iv) is incurably of unsound mind and has been continuously under care and treatment for a period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

( b ) by the wife on the ground that her husband has since the celebration of the marriage been guilty of rape, sodomy or bestiality.

(2) In calculating for the purposes of subsection (1)( a )(ii) of this section the period for which the respondent has deserted the petitioner without cause, and in considering whether the desertion has been continuous, no account shall be taken of any one period (not exceeding three months) during which the parties resumed cohabitation with a view to reconciliation; and, for the purposes of a petition for divorce, the court may treat a period of desertion as having continued at a time when the deserting party was incapable of continuing the necessary intention if the evidence before the court is such that, had that party not been so incapable, the court would have inferred that that intention continued at that time.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)( a )(iv) of this section, a person of unsound mind shall be deemed to be under care and treatment while, and only while—

( a ) he is liable to be detained in a hospital, mental nursing home or place of safety under the Mental Health Act 1959 or in a hospital or place of safety under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1960 ;

( b ) he is detained in pursuance of an order for his detention or treatment as a person of unsound mind or a person suffering from mental illness made under any law for the time being in force in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands (including any such law relating to criminal lunatics) or is receiving treatment as a voluntary patient under any law so in force;

( c ) he is receiving treatment for mental illness as a resident in—

(i) a hospital or other institution provided, approved, licensed, registered or exempted from registration by any Minister or other authority in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands; or

(ii) a hospital or other institution in any other country, being a hospital or institution in which his treatment is comparable with the treatment provided in any such hospital or institution as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) of this paragraph;

and, in determining for the purposes of the said subsection (1)( a )(iv) whether any period of care and treatment has been continuous, any interruption of the period for twenty-eight days or less shall be disregarded.

(4) A certificate by a Secretary of State that a person was receiving treatment for mental illness during any period as a resident in any naval, military or air force hospital under the direction of the Defence Council shall for the purposes of paragraph ( c ) of the last foregoing subsection be conclusive evidence of the facts certified.

S-2 Restriction on petitions within three years of marriage.

2 Restriction on petitions within three years of marriage.

(1) Subject to the next following subsection, no petition for divorce shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the period of three years from the date of the marriage (hereafter in this section referred to as ‘the specified period’).

(2) A judge of the court may, on an application made to him, allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within the specified period on the ground that the case is one of exceptional hardship suffered by the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent; but in determining the application the judge shall have regard to the interests of any relevant child and to the question whether there is reasonable probability of a reconciliation between the parties during the specified period.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the presentation of a petition based upon matters which occurred before the expiration of the specified period.

S-3 Divorce not precluded by previous judicial separation.

3 Divorce not precluded by previous judicial separation.

(1) A person shall not be prevented from presenting a petition for divorce, or the court from granting a decree of divorce, by reason only that the petitioner has at any time, on the same facts or substantially the same facts as those proved in support of the petition, been granted a decree of judicial separation or an order under, or having effect as if made under, the Matrimonial Proceedings (Magistrates' Courts) Act 1960 or any corresponding enactments in force in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands.

(2) On a petition for divorce in such a case as is mentioned in the foregoing subsection, the court may treat the decree of judicial separation or the said order as sufficient proof of the adultery, desertion or other ground on which it was granted, but shall not grant a decree of divorce without receiving evidence from the petitioner.

(3) For the purposes of a petition for divorce in such a case, a period of desertion immediately preceding the institution of proceedings for a decree of judicial separation or for such an order as aforesaid having the effect of a decree of judicial separation shall, if the parties have not resumed co-habitation and the decree or order has been continuously in force since it was granted, be deemed immediately to precede the presentation of the petition.

S-4 Alleged adulterer as a party.

4 Alleged adulterer as a party.

(1) On a petition for divorce presented by the husband on the ground of adultery, or in the answer of a husband praying for divorce on that ground, the husband shall make the alleged adulterer a co-respondent unless excused by the court on special grounds from doing so.

(2) On a petition for divorce presented by the wife on the ground of adultery the court may, if it thinks fit, direct that the alleged adulteress be made a respondent.

(3) Where an alleged adulterer is made a co-respondent on such a petition as is mentioned in subsection (1) of this section or an alleged adulteress is made a respondent on such a petition as is mentioned in the last foregoing subsection, the court may, after the close of the evidence on the part of the petitioner, direct that the co-respondent or, as the case may be, the respondent be dismissed from the suit if the court is of opinion that there is not sufficient evidence against him or her.

S-5 Hearing of petition.

5 Hearing of petition.

(1) On a petition for divorce it shall be the duty of the court—

( a ) to inquire, so far as it reasonably can, into the facts alleged and whether there has been any connivance or condonation on the part of the petitioner and whether any collusion exists between the parties; and

( b ) to inquire into any countercharge made against the petitioner.

(2) Provision may be made by rules of court for enabling the court, on application made either before or after the presentation of the petition, to take into consideration for the purposes of this section any agreement or arrangement made or proposed to be made between the parties and to give such directions in the matter as the court thinks fit; but nothing in this subsection affects any duty of the parties to disclose to the court any agreement or arrangement made between the parties in contemplation of or in connection with the proceedings.

(3) If the court is satisfied on the evidence that the case for the petition has been proved and—

( a ) where the ground of the petition is adultery, that the petitioner has not in any manner been accessory to or connived at or condoned the adultery;

( b ) where the ground of the petition is cruelty, that the petitioner has not in any manner condoned the cruelty,

the court shall, subject to subsections (4) and (5) of this section, grant a decree of divorce; and if the court is not satisfied with respect to any of the matters aforesaid, it shall dismiss the petition.

(4) The court may dismiss a petition for divorce if—

( a ) it finds that the petition is presented or prosecuted in...

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