What to expect from the divorce process

The process of getting a divorce in England and Wales will, of course, vary from case to case, as no two cases are identical. However, the basic principles behind a divorce will largely be the same, so this article explains what you can expect if you are considering getting divorced, or if you are already at the start of divorce proceedings.

Firstly, the spouse that wants the divorce has to file for one. They are known as the petitioner or the applicant, and they fill in a divorce petition form that includes their full name and address and their spouse’s full name and address, and send three copies, a copy of their marriage certificate and the appropriate fee to their nearest divorce court. The court then sends a copy of the divorce petition to the spouse, who is known as the respondent, along with a notice of proceedings form and an acknowledgement of service form. They keep the notice of proceedings form and have to respond to the court by completing the acknowledgement of service form by the stated deadline. Once they have done this, the court sends a copy to the petitioner, and the petitioner applies for a “decree nisi” or a “request to proceed.” This is all pretty routine and straightforward so far.

What happens now is up to the respondent. They can choose to oppose the divorce, in which case they have to return the acknowledgement of service form within eight days and then have 21 days to respond to the court explaining why they oppose the divorce. Alternatively, they might choose to launch a counter claim, and start their own divorce proceedings against the petitioner. So, there is the prospect of proceedings becoming contentious at this stage. However, if the respondent agrees with the divorce then they can simply fill in the acknowledgement of service form and return it within the required eight days.

If the respondent doesn’t oppose the divorce and the judge accepts that there are valid grounds for divorce, then they will grant the decree nisi. However, if the respondent does oppose the divorce or has launched their own divorce proceedings then there will be a court hearing to try to come to an agreement, after which the judge can either grant the decree nisi or refuse the divorce, asking for more information or for a further court hearing. Once the decree nisi has been granted, the petitioner has to wait six weeks and one day (43 days) to then apply for the decree absolute. The decree absolute is the legal document that formally ends the marriage and means that the two people are officially divorced. If the applicant fails to do so three months after the decree nisi has been granted then the respondent can do so instead.

These are the stages of divorce that are required to end a marriage, but there may be a lot more involved, including child arrangements, property arrangements and dealing with financial issues. If you agree between you both on these then it can bypass the need to go to court.

Sills & Betteridge Solicitors have experienced family law teams available across Lincolnshire and Central England who are able to deal with every aspect of divorce and separation, including advising you on what reasons to use when seeking a divorce. Our family law department is one of the largest and most successful in the country and we are committed to offering you a service which minimises the emotional and financial impact upon you, and put your interests and those of your family first. For more information about seeking a divorce, please contact us on 0800 542 4245, email us on info@sillslegal.co.uk or call in to one of our offices.

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