If you are thinking of getting a divorce, here is a basic summary of what the divorce process entails.
Clearly, no two divorces are the same, every divorcing couple has their own issues, from, financial, and emotional issues, to disputes regarding how they are going to raise their children. One size really does not fit all.
However, every divorce undergoes the same basic journey from start to finish. Whether you both make this journey slowly or rapidly, at high cost or low cost, stressfully or calmly is up to you, but the end result is always the same: your marriage comes to an end.
The divorce timescales will vary depending on the complexity of the case and the workload of the courts.
Here’s a basic summary of how the divorce process works in England and Wales.
Divorce Process Stage 1- DIVORCE PETITION
The first stage of the divorce process is to complete and issue a divorce petition. The petition is the document which starts the divorce process. The person who issues the divorce petition is called the petitioner, the other partner is called the respondent.
The petition which will set out details of the marriage. It includes when and where you were married. It also includes the reasons that you are relying on to prove your marriage has broken down irretrievably (permanently). You can only rely on one of the following 5 reasons:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- You have lived apart for more than 2 years
- You have lived apart for at least 5 years
Once you have selected one reason, you will need to give further supporting information to explain why it applies in your case. For example, if you are getting divorced on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, you will need to include examples of your spouse’s behaviour which affected you the most, and the most recent incidents that caused the marriage to break down.
Divorce Process Stage 2 – Court sends a Petition to the Respondent
Once the court has the petition, they will send a copy to your spouse. With another document called, the Acknowledgement of Service(AoS). Your spouse will have to complete this document, sign it and send it back for the divorce to continue.
Once the Court has the AoS from the Respondent, they will send it to the Petitioner. And to let them know that they can move to the next stage of the divorce process.
If your spouse refuses to return the Acknowledgement of Service to the court, you will need to go through an additional process to arrange personal service of the documents. At Divorce Negotiator, we have helped many clients to get their divorce moving, in a situation where their spouse would not sign the paperwork and send it back to the court. What application needs to be made depends on your circumstances. If you are stuck on this issue, give us a call on 0800 177 7702.
Divorce Process Stage 3 – Decree Nisi
Whether your partner returned the AoS to the court. Or whether you had to make a separate application. You are now ready to apply for the Decree Nisi. At this stage, the judge will now consider whether you are entitled to a divorce or not. The Judge looks at the paperwork. Once satisfied they will set a date to grant the decree nisi.
You are not divorced yet.
Divorce Process Stage 4 – Decree Absolute
Once six weeks have passed from the date of your decree nisi was pronounced you can move to the final stage of your divorce, the decree absolute. Once the court grants the decree absolute, you will be divorced.
What about your finances?
Once you have decided to divorce, you should start to negotiate your divorce financial settlement. When you reach the decree nisi stage, you can apply for a consent order from the court, making your settlement agreement legally binding. Read more about consent orders here.
What about your children?
The court usually expects couples to come to an agreement about how they will co-parent their children. You do not have to make any applications to court. If you are unable to reach an agreement, we can usually help to negotiate an agreement between you. This agreement can then be set out in a parenting agreement. Read more about our parenting agreement here.