Either party to the marriage or civil partnership can start divorce proceedings. The party applying for a divorce or dissolution is known as the petitioner. The other spouse is known as the respondent. Divorce and dissolution proceedings are dealt with by the Family Court.
The divorce procedure can seem daunting: however, we have outlined the steps to take below:
- The petitioner’s solicitor drafts the divorce petition in Form D8
- The petitioner’s solicitor should notify the respondent’s solicitor of intention to start divorce proceedings at least seven days in advance and allow them time to approve the divorce petition. A petitioner in an adultery or unreasonable behaviour petition is usually awarded the costs of the divorce-( this does not include the costs of sorting out financial issues or issues about the children-) It is good practice to agree who should fund the costs of the divorce before the petition is issued and identify the amount to be claimed.
- The petitioner’s solicitor files the divorce petition at court, enclosing the original marriage certificate, a statement of reconciliation in Form D6 and a court fee of £550.If you are on a low income, you may be eligible to apply for a fees exemption certificate. To see if you are meet the financial criteria, see https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees
- The court posts the petition to the respondent, enclosing notice of proceedings which explains the divorce
- The respondent has 7 days to return the acknowledgement of service, in which they confirm whether they consent to the divorce
- Once this is received, the petitioner’s solicitor can apply for the Decree Nisi in Forms D84 & D80 (A)- ( E )
- Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is pronounced, the petitioner’s solicitor can apply for the Decree Absolute in Form D36, which will terminate the marriage. It is not good practice to terminate a marriage unless finances are agreed, as termination of the marriage affects pension rights, inheritance rights and taxation.
The vast majority of divorces are undefended. Most petitions are based upon unreasonable behaviour, as sometimes it can be difficult to prove adultery, unless the respondent admits it has taken place. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to issue divorce proceedings immediately after marriage breakdown unless you rely upon your spouse’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour as the reason for that relationship breakdown. The basis for the divorce does not impact upon how money is divided; nor does it affect how much time the children spend with each parent.
There is only one ground for the divorce, and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The marriage has broken down irretrievably in five ways:-
- The respondent’s adultery
- The respondent’s unreasonable behaviour
- The respondent’s desertion
- You have been separated for a continuous period of two years AND the respondent consents to the divorce
- You have been separated for a continuous period of five years
Our divorce solicitors understand that getting a divorce can be an emotional and confusing experience. Arguing about who caused the breakdown of the marriage can shift focus away from concentrating on what is best for the children and sorting out financial matters. Our family solicitors are all members of Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers committed to resolving family disputes as sensitively and non- confrontationally as possible.
If you require advice you can contact one of our family law solicitors on 0161 941 4000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.