We are often asked the stages for divorce. We explain the process on how to get divorced in England & Wales.
Whether you are the one applying to get divorced, or the one receiving the divorce papers, the whole process of getting divorced is often a very daunting, worrying and stressful time for most separating couples. Whilst it is most definitely helpful to have the support and guidance of an experienced family Solicitor to assist you along the way when getting divorced, the below guide summarises the divorce process into straightforward stages, to help the process seem a little less daunting at the outset.
Stage 1-File the Divorce Petition at Court
In England & Wales it is only possible to file for divorce after one year of being married. After this, the first step is to prepare and file a divorce petition at Court. The person applying for the divorce is referred to as the Petitioner. The other party is known as the Respondent.
The Divorce Petition sets out the details of both the Petitioner and the Respondent, and sets out why the marriage has broken down. It is necessary to demonstrate to the Court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To demonstrate this, the Divorce Petition provides the following reasons to rely upon:
Unreasonable behaviour i.e. the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner can no longer live with him/her. Examples of the Respondent’s behaviour will need to be provided within the divorce petition.
Adultery- it is necessary to prove that the Respondent has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex. Usually the Respondent is asked to sign a confession statement admitting this. The signed statement is then provided to the Court with the divorce petition.
Two Years Separation-the Petitioner and the Respondent have lived apart for two years. It is necessary for both the Petitioner and the Respondent to consent to this ground being the reason for getting divorced.
Five Years Separation- the Petitioner and the Respondent have lived apart for five years. There is no requirement for an agreement to be reached for this reason to be used within the divorce petition
Desertion – the Respondent has up and left the Petitioner for a period of more than two years without consent.
An original marriage certificate must also be sent to the Court with the divorce petition.
The Court fee for considering the petition is £550.00. It is possible to ask the Respondent to pay towards this fee within the divorce petition.
Stage 2-Serving the divorce petition on the Respondent
After the Court has received the divorce petition, the divorce petition is formally issued by the Court.
The divorce petition will be sent to the Respondent or his/her solicitor with an Acknowledgement Form which needs to be completed. This form must be returned to the Court within 14 days. If the Acknowledgement is not returned, other steps can be taken to personally serve the divorce petition upon the Respondent and prove that the divorce petition has been received. A solicitor will be able to offer advice about the options available to do this if necessary.
Stage 3- Application for Decree Nisi
The Court will send a copy of the completed Acknowledgment of Service Form that the Respondent has filed with the Court to the Petitioner or his/her solicitor. Once received, an application for Decree Nisi can be made. This requires the Petitioner to fill in a short form which either the Petitioner or his/her Solicitor can sign.
A Statement in Support of the application for Decree Nisi must also be completed and sent to the Court. This form allows the Petitioner to confirm whether anything has factually changed since the Divorce Petition was filed.
The Statement in Support cannot be signed by a Solicitor and must be signed by the Petitioner themselves. Please be aware that there are different versions of the Statement in Support form. The version that will need to be completed will depend upon the reason relied upon within the divorce petition to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It is worthwhile seeking advice from a solicitor to ensure that you are completing the correct forms so as to avoid unnecessary compilations and delays.
Stage 4- Pronouncement of Decree Nisi (Halfway stage in getting divorced)
The District Judge will then consider the divorce papers and if accepted, the District Judge will confirm the date that Decree Nisi will be pronounced.
On the date that Decree Nisi has been set to be pronounced, there is no need to attend at Court as this is a paper exercise for the District Judge. Once Decree Nisi has been pronounced, the Court will send the Decree Nisi to the Petitioner and the Respondent or his/her solicitors.
Stage 5- Application for Decree Absolute
The Petitioner and the Respondent are not divorced until Decree Absolute has been granted.
The Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute six weeks after the Decree Nisi has been pronounced. If the Petitioner does not apply for Decree Absolute 4 and a half months after Decree Nisi has been pronounced, the Respondent can apply for Decree Absolute.
Finally, the Petitioner and the Respondent will be sent by the court a Decree Absolute which officially ends the marriage. The Decree Absolute replaces the marriage certificate and it is therefore extremely important that the Decree Absolute is kept safe.
For more information on how to get divorced in England & Wales, contact one of our divorce specialists:
T: 029 2034 2233