Step by Step Guide to Divorce Proceedings

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Step by Step Guide to Divorce Proceedings

Stage 1 – Preparing Divorce Documentation

The first stage is to prepare the divorce documentation. This could include:

Divorce Petition
This is the document that sets out your intention to divorce and the reasons for the divorce.

Statement of Arrangements for Children
This form sets out what arrangements you have made in relation to the children such as what is going to happen over contact, where are they going to live and whether they have any special needs.

Marriage Certificate
You will also need to provide the original of the Marriage Certificate to the Court. If you no longer have this you will have to apply for a new one from your local Registry. There will be a fee of approximately £7.00 payable to the Registry for this.

Fee Exemption Form
If you are in receipt of a low income you may not have to pay the court fees for issuing the Petition. If you are in receipt of Legal Aid, you will need to include the Certificate proving this (if we are acting for you, we will provide this for you).

Court Fee of £300.00
This is the current court fee for issuing the Divorce Petition and is payable if you are not in receipt of Legal Aid or on a low income.

Stage 2 – Informing the other party of the Divorce Petition

Under The Family Law Protocol it is recommended that the person being served with the Divorce Petition is contacted to be advised of the intention to issue the Petition. The reason for this is:

  • To try and agree as soon as possible the grounds for the Petition. If there is a disagreement that can be resolved before the Petition is issued, this will avoid the petition being defended, which can be expensive and lengthy.
  • Under the protocol this gives the person being served with the Petition the chance to seek independent legal advice.

If for any reason you are concerned about the other party being notified of the divorce Petition you must discuss this with the person dealing with your case who will assist you with this.

Stage 3 – Issuing the Documentation

If the grounds for the Petition are agreed, they will be sent to the other party. They need to complete a form and send it to the Court within 7 days which acknowledges that they have received the Petition and indicates whether they intend to defend the Petition or not. This is called an Acknowledgement of Service form.

If they do not complete the form then we an arrange for them to be personally served. This means that a person is instructed called a “Process Server” who hands the papers to the other party personally.

If the process server is not able to serve the other party then after a period of time an application can be made to the court to remove the need to have them served. The Court would need to be shown that efforts have been made to trace and serve the other party.

Stage 4 – Swearing Affidavit

Once the Acknowledgement of Service has been received or an application has been made to dispense with service, the person issuing the proceedings has to swear on oath that the content of the Divorce Petition is true. This document is called an Affidavit and once it is sworn it is filed with the Court.

Stage 5 – Decree Nisi

After receiving the sworn Affidavit and the Divorce Papers, a District Judge will consider them and if satisfied that there are grounds for a divorce they will fix a date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced. It is unlikely that you would have to attend Court on this date. There are occasions where we would advise attendance at the hearing, for example where there is an issue about who pays the costs of the divorce.

A Decree Nisi is confirmation from the court that the divorce can proceed – it does not end the marriage.

Stage 6 – Decree Absolute

A Decree Absolute will be pronounced 6 weeks and a day after the Decree Nisi. The Decree Absolute finally dissolves the marriage. However, a Decree Absolute does not dismiss future financial claims between either party. Before a Decree Absolute is pronounced however the following issues must be considered:

  • If financial matters are not settled you should delay the Decree Absolute as you can lose important rights upon your Decree Absolute being granted, in particular with regard to pensions.
  • You need to consider making a new Will upon Decree Absolute if you have not done so already.

If financial matters are agreed then these can be recorded in a Consent Order and filed with your Decree Absolute. A Consent Order dismisses any further financial claims between either party.

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