Blimey, what a programme! I have been glued to the TV with fascination watching all the dramas that have been unfolding throughout this series. Did you catch it? It is my way of unwinding, which some might find peculiar given I have spent my career in family law.
If you’ve never seen it, the premise to the programme is that people are coupled up to get ‘married’ by a panel of experts who have matched them based on personalities and interests. They then live as a married couple and the programme follows them through it.
So what if you do find yourself marrying at first sight and it’s a mistake? Unless you are planning to go on the next series of this reality show, I suspect it might be more a case of a whirlwind romance, hasty wedding and the “oh no, whatever have I done?” moment of reality dawning that might occur. What then? How can you get out of the nightmare?
On the show in the UK, the couples are not legally married so they are legally free to leave at any time but unfortunately that isn’t the case in real-life…
Under the law in England and Wales you must be married for a year before divorce proceedings can be commenced. You or your spouse must live in England and Wales or have a sufficient connection to England and Wales. The marriage must have crucially irretrievably broken down. Currently, there is a requirement to clarify why the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This might be due to one party to the marriage having committed adultery or the unreasonable behaviour of the other party. If either of these grounds can be relied upon to support the marriage having irretrievably broken down then proceedings can be commenced without any further waiting period. Alternatively the wait might be another 2 to 5 years.
There are a small number of ways a marriage can be brought to an end other than by a divorce, however these tend to apply only in exceptional circumstances such as where there might not have been consummation of the marriage or there was a lack of valid consent to the marriage by one party.
There may also be circumstances where the marriage might be said to be invalid for example if one party was not of an age to provide consent, or where a party might have already been married at the time.
The trials and tribulations faced by the couples on Married at First Sight, along with the current rules on divorce, demonstrate why it’s important to be 100% sure of a relationship before taking the big step into marriage.