Assuming that you have been married for more than one year, and that you meet the jurisdiction criteria to be allowed to issue divorce proceedings in England (e.g. you are habitually domiciled here – for more information, contact us on 0203 519 3191), once you have decided that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and that you will petition for divorce, the first step is to decide the grounds upon which the petition will be made.
- 2 years separation with consent
- 5 years separation without consent
Most divorce petitions are issued on the basis of unreasonable behaviour. For this, you will need to list on the petition 4 or 5 examples of your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour. You cannot rely on your own unreasonable behaviour.
D&G Family Law offers a 30-minute, no obligation meeting for £50 + VAT (£60). At this meeting, we can discuss your situation and in most cases provide some provisional advice on which ground you should use in your divorce petition. Please call 0203 519 3919 to make an appointment to see us.
It is advisable to discuss the divorce petition with your spouse so that they know it is coming, and they know and agree the grounds on which you are intending to divorce them. This will mean that it is not a shock for them when they receive the petition.
The next step is for you to complete the divorce petition and file it. You can do this either by downloading and completing the divorce petition here and filing it, along with your marriage certificate at the correct court, or using the online system.
If you got married abroad and your marriage certificate is in another language, you will need a certified translation of your marriage certificate.
The divorce petition will be issued by the court. The papers will be served on your spouse by the court. This will be by email if you filed your petition online, or by post if you filed your petition on paper at the court.
You will be the petitioner and your spouse will be the respondent.
Your spouse will receive a document called an acknowledgment of service, which she will be asked to complete. This document allows your spouse to acknowledge receipt of the petition and to indicate whether they agree with the contents of the petition.
It is possible for a respondent to indicate an intention to defend the divorce proceedings in the acknowledgment of service, but defended divorce proceedings are rare.
If your spouse does not indicate an intention to defend the proceedings, once you receive a copy of the completed acknowledgment of service, you will be able to apply for the first stage of the two-part divorce order, decree nisi. You will have to file a statement in support of the petition to accompany the application. The statement poses a number of questions aimed at ensuring the contents of the petition remain true and correct and that there have been no changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to rely on your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour to support the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
You with then receive a document from the court called the certificate of entitlement to decree nisi. This will contain the date on which your decree nisi is to be pronounced.
Once your decree nisi has been pronounced, you will receive a document from the court saying that your decree nisi has been granted.
Once six weeks and one day have elapsed from the date your decree nisi was granted, you will be able to apply for the final decree of divorce, decree absolute. This brings your marriage to an end and you are then formally divorced.
You should not, however, apply for decree absolute until any application for financial orders has been resolved. In most cases it is in your best interest to obtain an order from court settling your financial claims.
There are not usually any court hearings in divorce proceedings (although there may be some in financial proceedings). Divorces are usually dealt with by the court without either party having to go to court.