Providing all the support you need if you have decided to divorce
- Divorce is a last resort and you should be sure that’s what you want. Consider marriage guidance counselling through an agency such as Relate.
- If you decide to proceed with divorce this can take 6-12 months and you will need to consider financial matters and children matters as well.
- As one of the leading UK family and divorce law firms, our expert legal advice at an early stage can avoid problems that may occur during the process.
What are the grounds for divorce?
To apply for a divorce, you must have been married for more than one year and be able to satisfy the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
You need to rely on one of the following facts:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation with consent
- Five years’ separation without consent
Stages of divorce
The process begins with the person seeking the divorce, known as the Petitioner, filing the petition at court and a Statement of Reconciliation. This confirms that you, as Petitioner, and your solicitor have discussed the possibility of reconciliation. The petition, and court fee (currently £550) are all sent to the court, along with your original marriage certificate, which won’t be returned.
The court will send a copy of the processed petition, together with a Notice of Proceedings / Acknowledgement of Service, to the Respondent, who is the other person in the divorce.
The Respondent completes the Acknowledgement of Service and returns it. If they accept the stated grounds for divorce and don’t intend to defend it, their role in this process comes to an end.
The Petitioner then has to file a statement in support of the petition and a request for the court to grant the first of the two divorce decrees, known as the Decree Nisi. This is the first time the papers will go before a judge; until then, it’s purely an administrative process. If all is in order, the judge issues a Certificate of Entitlement with a date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. It’s not usually necessary for anyone to attend the pronouncement, as this is effectively a ‘paper stamping exercise’.
Six weeks and a day after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, you can apply for the Decree Absolute. This is the second and final divorce decree, after which you are able to remarry. We will not advise you to do this whilst financial matters remain unresolved.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
Depending on the court and availability of court time, the divorce process can take around 18 to 24 weeks. However, many people delay the application for the decree absolute until the finances are settled.
What are the court fees for applying for a divorce?
Currently, the court fee is £550 (please note, this is not the solicitor’s fee).
Can the courts deal with your divorce; do they have 'jurisdiction'?
The courts in England and Wales can deal with your divorce if they have ‘jurisdiction’, which usually means as long as both parties are habitually resident which means living in England and Wales.
You may need to prove you are habitually resident in England and Wales, and have been for at least one year. There are other aspects involved; some of them are complex and your solicitor can discuss and explain them.
If you are in any doubt about whether the courts of England and Wales can accept your petition, you should ask our advice straight away. If you delay, you might lose the opportunity to issue proceedings here and take advantage of the local laws on divorce, finances and children, if your spouse takes steps to issue a divorce in another country.
You should not tip your spouse off it you want to use a certain jurisdiction; time is very much of the essence so do not delay.
The next step
It’s a good idea to see us as early as possible if you are contemplating divorce, as our advice at this stage can save complications later on. For example, you may need to act quickly if your partner is about to start disposing of assets or transferring property, in an attempt to prevent you benefiting from them.
We are recognised as one of the UK’s leading divorce and family law firms, with a strong reputation for representing our clients in divorce cases. Our experience and knowledge, together with clear explanation that keep you informed throughout the process, will make it seem less daunting and help you feel more optimistic for the future.
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