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.
Filing the Divorce Petition
Firstly, 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 can be 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 meeting 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. Find out what the grounds for divorce are here.
What to do next
If you wish to start divorce proceedings then we advise you speak with one of our divorce lawyers who will discuss with you all the available options and solutions available to you. You can contact them on 0161-941-4000 or using our contact form.