The Divorce Process
This guide lays out the Divorce Process in the UK; Divorce is defined by the Legal dissolution of a marriage by an accepted body or by Judgement of a court.
If you have permanent residency in the UK, have been Married for over a year, your marriage is legally recognised in the UK and your relationship has broken down you are able to apply for a divorce.
The 3 major steps to a divorce are:
- Filing for Divorce, to do this you will have to apply to a court for permission, and in so doing you must explain the reasons the Marriage should end.
- The second stage is to apply for a Decree nisi – this is a document that states that there is no reason why divorce can not go ahead; this is when you have agreement to the petition in stage one.
- The final stage is the Decree Absolute, at which time your marriage will be legally terminated, you will have to wait six weeks after stage two before you can apply for the decree absolute.
In filing for Divorce you will need to have justifiable reasons why the marriage has broken down, in this section you are able to site up to 5 reasons for your Divorce.
The most common reasons are.
If your spouse has committed Adultery and you have found out about it in the last 6 months, you can site adultery as a reason for divorce.
If you find that your spouses’ behaviour is unreasonable and you cannot stay married to them this can also be a reason for Divorce.
Some of the areas which define unreasonable behaviour are
Abuse both physical and verbal
Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
Not socialising with you
Not helping to pay bills
The list is extensive and you will be well advised to document as many of these including dates if possible.
If your spouse has left you without a good reason and without your agreement, it can also be that they left to end your relationship.
This qualifies if it is for a period of more than two years in the last 2 and a half years, you can still site desertion if you have cohabited for 6 months within this period.
Living apart for two years-
If you agree in writing, you can apply for divorce under the grounds that you have been living apart for two years, if you are living apart and you can not obtain the written agreement then the term must be five years or more.
Filing for your divorce
To file for your divorce you must first complete the petition for divorce, which are available online or through your solicitor. On the form you will be asked to complete the details of yourself and your spouse and attach the original marriage certificate – if you have lost this you can obtain a duplicate from a register office.
You will also be asked for the details of any children irrespective of their age.
When you complete the reasons for divorce please be aware that if you site Adultery, the 3rd party will receive copies of your paperwork.
Supplementary forms will also be required relating to your children and the arrangements you have made for them.
These will be required for children under 16, or 18 if still in education or training.
The details to include are what care arrangements have been agreed, any payments (maintenance) and what contact agreements are in place.
It is advisable that both parties agree to this section prior to the filing for divorce.
When you file for divorce a fee of £410 will be payable but if you are on a low income or benefits you should discuss this fee with the court, as you may be eligible for assistance.
What to do with the Petition forms-
You will need to send in two copies of the form to the court, an additional form if you are siting adultery, the extra one for the 3rd party.
Two copies of the child arrangements.
These should be sent to any court that deals with divorce, logically send the forms to a court that you can get to easily as you may have to attend.
What happens next?
If you or your spouse has filed for a divorce, the court will send you the divorce petition, in addition a notice of proceedings form and a service form.
The proceedings form will lay out the process and what you should do next along with your case number, you will need to complete the service form which needs to be returned to the court.
If you choose not to respond, after 21 days have elapsed your spouse can continue with divorce as if you have agreed.
You can of course agree or disagree with the petition.
If you disagree fill in your service form and return it within eight days stating that you disagree and you will be defending the divorce, after this time you will have 21 days to explain in writing why you are defending the divorce, answer to a divorce petition are available on line or through your solicitor, an additional fee will also be payable to the court.
If you have been petitioned for divorce you can start your own divorce process against your spouse giving your own reasons in the way stated above, an additional court fee will be payable.
In the situation that your divorce is being defended or a counter petition has been made the court will normal arrange for a hearing, the objective is for you both to come to an agreement over the terms of the divorce.
The Decree Nisi
You can apply for the Decree Nisi in one of two situations.
If the divorce petition is undefended or you have attended a court hearing and the judge will decide if they will grant you a Decree Nisi.
To obtain the Decree Nisi you will need to complete the Decree Nisi application form, available on line or through your solicitors.
In the form you will need to complete the agreed details to your divorce, stating what you said in your original partition is true and completing the relevant form or forms that give you grounds for your divorce, and attach your spouse’s response to the original petition.
If the courts agree with your Decree Nisi application you will be sent a certificate of entitlement, confirmation that if any children are involved, they see no reason to delay the process, and of course the Decree Nisi.
After six weeks you may then apply for a Decree Absolute, which will legally end the marriage.
If the courts require more information when you submit an application for a Decree Nisi
You will be informed in writing stating what you need to do next.
Obtaining your decree absolute
As mentioned, you will need to wait 6 weeks from the decree nisi to your application for the decree absolute, the reason for the delay is to allow you to finalise any arrangements with your spouse before the decree absolute, if you do not apply for the decree absolute within 12 months you will be asked to explain the reason for the delay to the courts.
The application form for your decree absolute is available on-line or through your appointed solicitor.
Either party in the divorce can apply for the decree absolute, but if you did not start the process you will have to wait an additional 3 months over the 6-week period.
When the court receive your application they will check that every thing is in order and that all time limits have been met, once they are satisfied you will be sent the Decree Absolute.
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