To help answer any questions you may have we’ve put together an overview of the divorce process in England and Wales. As you will see there is a set legal procedure to follow and many forms to fill in along the way – all of which must be correct in every detail.
Whilst this all might sound a bit daunting, don’t worry, we’re here to guide you from start to finish.
Stage One – The Divorce Petition
This document is your request for the Court to start the divorce process. It outlines basic information about you, and your marriage, together with your grounds for divorce. As long as it has been completed correctly, and you have paid the necessary fee, the Court will send out a copy of the petition to your spouse. Incidentally, if it is you applying for the divorce then you will be known as the Petitioner and your spouse will be referred to as the Respondent. Want to know more? – Click here.
Stage Two – Your Spouse’s Response
The Respondent is given 8 days to complete and return the documentation to the Court. They will be expected to sign a form known as the Acknowledgement of Service and state whether or not they wish to contest the divorce proceedings. Contested divorces are uncommon, expensive and generally do not achieve a great deal in the long run. A valid reason for contesting a divorce would be if you believed that you had already been divorced in a different jurisdiction. If the Respondent does wish to contest the divorce then they have to complete and return a form known as the ‘Answer’ within 28 days of receiving the Petition.
Stage Three – The Papers Go Before the Court
The Petitioner will receive a copy of the completed Acknowledgement of Service from the Court once it has been returned by the Respondent. The Petitioner will then have to write a statement (the Affidavit) confirming, under oath, that everything they have said in the Petition is true and has not changed. This Affidavit, the Acknowledgement of Service and the original Petition need to be sent to the Court so that they can be placed before a Judge.
Stage Four – The Court’s Decision & Decree Nisi
If the Court is happy with the documentation and is satisfied that there is no need for the Court to get involved in relation to any children then it will set a date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. If there is no dispute about the arrangements for the children then there is no need for either party to attend the short pronouncement hearing (although you may do so if you wish).
Stage Five – The Decree Absolute
The petitioner is required to wait for a period of at least six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi before they are allowed to apply to completely dissolve the marriage. This is a legally defined period to allow for any possible reconciliation. To apply for the final decree (Decree Absolute) you are required to complete another application form and to pay another Court fee. The Court will then pronounce your marriage dissolved and send you out a copy of the Decree Absolute (which you should keep in a safe place).