A Simple Guide to Divorce Proceedings

A divorce is the process of dissolving a marriage.   A dissolution is dissolving a civil partnership (same sex marriage).

The person starting the divorce is called the Petitioner and the spouse or partner is referred to as the Respondent.

The Petitioner must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, ie there is no hope of reconciliation.  The Petitioner must show the irretrievable breakdown by one of five ways.  They are

  1.  The Respondent has committed adultery and you cannot tolerate to live with him. (This option is not avaibable to civil partners seeking a dissolution)
  2. The Respondent's behaviour is so unreasonable you cannot be reasonably expected to live with him.
  3. The Respondent has deserted you.
  4. You have lived apart for 2 years and the Respondent consents to the divorce
  5. You have lived apart for 5 years.

The Petitioner or we as your solicitor will complete the divorce petition setting out the reason for the divorce.  If there are children of the family a Statement of Arrangements for Children form will also need to be completed.  The Court will also require the original marriage certificate.  There is a Court fee of £340 however some concessions apply if you are in receipt of certain state benefits or receiving a low income.

The Court will then send the divorce petition to the Respondent and he or she will be asked to complete the Acknowledgement of Service form and return it to the Court.  This is so the Court is satisfied the Respondent knows about the divorce.  If the Respondent fails to return this form there are ways around this, such as the Court Bailiff personally serving the Respondent with the papers.

If the Respondent indicates that he intends to defend the divorce the process is more complex and so the following applies only if the divorce is undefended.  It is unusual for a divorce to be defended but it does happen.

The Court forwards the Respondent's Acknowledgment of Service form to the Petitioner who then completes a Statement in Support of the Petition to confirm all the details in the Petition are correct and they ask the court for the Decree Nisi.  The Decree Nisi is the first stage in the divorce and the Decree Absolute is the second and final stage of the divorce.

If the Court is satisfied that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce the Court will set a date for when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced.  This is usually around 6 weeks ahead.  Neither party need to attend Court to hear the Decree Nisi be pronounced.

Once the Decree Nisi is pronounced the Petitioner has to wait 6 weeks before they can apply for the Decree Absolute. There is a Court fee of £45.  The Decree Absolute means the marriage has been dissolved and the divorce is complete.  If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute the Respondent can do so but he has to wait a further 3 months, ie 4.5 months from the date of the Decree Nisi.

This is a simple guide to the divorce process.  On average it takes 4 - 6 months to obtain a divorce.  There can be complications such as a foreign marriage certificate but this can be overcome by being translated into English.  Financial matters should also be addressed and we would discuss this with you at the outset and throughout the divorce process.  A Decree Absolute does not necessarily bring financial claims to an end.

For advice on divorce proceedings please contact Amanda Weaver on 01788 555042 or by email amandaweaver@newleafsolicitors.co.uk