77 High Street
Tel: 020 8658 3922
Fax: 020 8658 8694
This leaflet is designed to supplement the information and advice given to you during your initial interview. It also only primarily deals with UNCONTESTED divorces.
If you are the person commencing divorce proceedings you will be know as the PETITIONER. Your spouse will be known as the RESPONDENT. These “titles” will be used in all subsequent legal proceedings, including any separate application in relation to the children or financial issues.
A divorce will ONLY bring an end to your marriage. It does not deal with the financial matters which may flow from your marriage. On average uncontested divorce proceedings take 4-6 months to conclude and are dealt with in the county court.
There is currently only one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. A Divorce Petition can be presented to the court on the basis of:-
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separation for 2 years WITH CONSENT
- Separation for 5 years WITHOUT CONSENT
- Or desertion (for a period of not less than 2 years)
If you decide to commence divorce proceedings, a divorce Petition will be drafted for you using one of the above facts. Your original marriage certificate will be requested as this needs to be filed at the court with your Petition. A fee may also be payable depending on your financial circumstances.
If there are any minor children, a Statement of Arrangements form must also be completed. This gives the Court information regarding the children, e.g.: - where they are living, with whom, contact arrangements, and if the child is suffering from any health or learning disabilities.
Once both documents have been drafted, your will be asked to approve the contents and sign them if applicable. NO document will be sent to the Court without you being entirely happy with its contents.
Issuing the Divorce Petition at Court
The papers are then sent to the Court for issue. The court will serve the papers directly on your spouse together with an Acknowledgement of Service form.
This must be returned by your spouse to the Court within 14 days from the date of service. This form merely asks whether or not the Respondent intends to consent to the divorce and if s/he agrees with the arrangements for the children (in accordance with the statement of Arrangements form). It also deals with the question of divorce costs, which will be discussed with you.
Once the respondent has returned the Acknowledgement of Service form to the court a copy is sent to the firm.
If however, the Respondent does not consent to the divorce or there is a problem in respect of the divorce costs, this must be resolved prior to an application for Directions for Trial being made.
On the basis that the Respondent is not going to contest the proceedings then the next step is to apply for directions for Trial. The application will be accompanied by an affidavit which you will need to have sworn in front of an independent solicitor (not a member from this firm) or alternatively at the local County Court. If you attend before a solicitor there will be a fee payable of £5.00 to swear the affidavit and £2.00 per exhibit. If you attend at the local county Court then the service is free, but you should ensure that the person before whom you swear your affidavit initials any manuscript amendments and also signs the exhibit sheet.
Your solicitor will forward the application and affidavit to the Court and request that a date is given for Decree Nisi. The district judge will consider your Petition and Affidavit and if s/he is content the grounds for the divorce have been proved will give a date for the pronouncement of Decree Nisi.
On a few occasions the District Judge may ask for more information which will have to be given before s/he will allow a date to be given for the Decree Nisi. If this is the case we will advice you of the additional information which we require.
On notice of the date for Decree Nisi, the Judge will also make any award of costs as requested in the petition. Normally speaking the petitioner is able to recover their divorce costs from the Respondent but in many circumstances an agreement is reached between the parties regarding this issue and the costs may be shared or the respondent asked to make a fixed contribution.
The pronouncement of Decree Nisi will be made by a District Judge in open court and whilst you may attend there is no need for you to do so. You will be given full details of the date and time of the hearing.
Six weeks from the date of the Decree Nisi, you may apply for the Decree Absolute, which will finally bring an end to you marriage. However, you may be advised not to apply for Decree Absolute until all financial issues have been resolved.
When Decree Absolute has been pronounced, the original document will be sent to you and the effectively replaces you marriage certificate. You should keep this in a safe place, as it will need to be produced should you ever wish to prove your divorce or to re-marry in the future. You should also be aware that upon the Decree Absolute being pronounced, any existing Will provisions in favour of your spouse will be deemed to have been deleted from you Will. You may therefore wish to review your Will following divorce.
If you do not apply for Decree Absolute at the appropriate juncture (i.e. six weeks from Decree Nisi); the Respondent may apply for the Decree Absolute three months from that date. That is approximately 4 and half months after Decree Nisi. The application is made “on notice” and you will have advance warning of the application. Again, if this is applicable to your case we will give you specific information regarding this.
This leaflet is only meant to give you general information regarding divorce procedure. If you have any specific questions you should ask the solicitor dealing with your case.