Procedure for a Divorce

You must first complete a divorce petition and return it to your local county court. From now on you will be legally known know as ‘the petitioner’. Your husband or wife who you are divorcing will be legally known as ‘the respondent.’

You will then need to supply copies of your marriage certificate, details of any children involved and also the name and address of any person with whom your husband or wife has committed adultery if you wish to name them in the divorce proceedings as grounds for the divorce. They are known as ‘the co-respondent’.

The courts will then post a copy of the petition to your husband or wife and any co-respondents named in your divorce petition. This is known as ‘serving the petition’.

Your husband or wife then has eight days to acknowledge receipt of the petition. If they don’t do this, the court will contact you and ask for more details and, if necessary, arrange for a court official - know as a bailiff - to serve the petition in person.

Once the petition has been served, what happens next depends upon whether or not your husband or wife contests the divorce or agrees to it. You may be asked to provide more information by the court. If you have children then the court must examine and agree with arrangements made for the children (e.g. who they are going to live with, where they are going to live, what contact they will have with the non-resident parent) before the divorce is granted.

Decree Nisi

The next and most important part of the divorce process is known as ‘the Decree Nisi’. This is the first stage of the actual divorce. It is granted only when a judge has reviewed all of the papers and is satisfied that there are proper grounds for a divorce. The judge will also check that all financial issues and arrangements for the children have been agreed or are in the process of being resolved. You may be required to attend court, but many divorces happen entirely by post.

Decree Absolute

The final stage of a divorce is called ‘the Decree Absolute.’ You can apply for the Decree Absolute six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi. If you don’t apply for the Decree Absolute, then your husband or wife as the respondent can apply for it, but only after a further three months have passed.

When you receive the Decree Absolute, you are no longer married and are free to re-marry. The court will only grant the Decree Absolute when the judge agrees that all arrangements for the children are now satisfactory. A judge can make a final financial order before the Decree Absolute is granted, but the order will only come into force after the decree has been made absolute.

Arrangements for property and children

The process of sorting out the financial aspect of the divorce is known as 'ancillary relief'. It is not the case that property is automatically divided in a 50/50 split. If you do go to court the judge will consider a number of factors when deciding who should get what, but the needs of any children will always be the main consideration.



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