Sadly, every year around 150,000 marriages end in divorce. The legal process of ending a marriage can have a major impact on all family members – both emotional and financial.
We at JKC Lawyers will advise and guide you through the process. We will outline your options at every stage and give you the information to make your own decisions.
In order to file for divorce you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down based on one of the following facts:
- Adultery – where your husband or wife has engaged in sexual relations with another man or woman whilst being married to you
- Unreasonable Behaviour where you would give examples of behaviour that you found unreasonable on the part of your husband/wife that led to the breakdown of the marriage
- Desertion – where your husband/wife cannot be located and has not been in contact for at least 2 years
- 2 Years Separation with your husband’s/wife’s Consent
- 5 years Separation – When you have been living apart for 5 years (consent not required)
Like many things, although the divorce process is the same each case is different and the duration of the process will be dependent upon factors such as how co-operative the other party.
In this section we provide an overview of divorce procedure.
- Step 1 – Issuing the Petition
The divorce is begun by the person applying for the divorce (the Petitioner) sending to the Court the completed Petition, Statement of Arrangements for Children form (if applicable), marriage certificate and the Court fee (or exemption from fees form if applicable) and a Statement of Reconciliation. The Petition is a standard from which contains the details of both parties and the facts upon which you wish to rely to prove the marriage has broken down. If there are children of the family then an additional Statement of Arrangements for Children must be sent to the Court setting out the arrangements for the children.
- Step 2 – Issue and Service of Petition
The Court will “issue” the Petition and send it to your husband/wife together with the Statement of Arrangements and a form for your husband/wife to complete (the Acknowledgement of Service form). A copy of the Petition is also sent to any co-respondent.
- Step 3 – Acknowledging service of the Petition
Within 8 days of receipt your husband/wife must complete and return the form to the Court stating whether he/she (i) Intends to defend the Petition
(ii) Objects to paying any costs claimed
(iii) Agrees with the Statement of Arrangements for Children
If the other party wants to defend the divorce, it becomes much more complex and the procedure set out below no longer applies.
- Step 4 – Confirming the contents of the Petition
The Court will send a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service to you or to your solicitors. You must then make a statement in support confirming that the contents of the Petition are true. This is sent to the Court together with an application form for the Decree Nisi.
- Step 5 – Pronouncement of Decree Nisi
The District Judge will look at the papers and if satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been established in the Petition a date will be set for Decree Nisi to be pronounced. Neither party has to attend the Decree Nisi unless the parties have been unable to agree costs. The court will also consider whether the arrangements for the care of any minor children are satisfactory and make a declaration to that effect.
- Step 6 – Application for Decree Absolute
Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi has been pronounced, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute. There is a standard Application form and a fee is payable. The Decree Absolute is the final stage of the divorce process and dissolves the marriage. There is no hearing and once the Decree Absolute has been granted, the parties are then free to remarry! In practice, however it is not usual to apply for Decree Absolute until finances between the parties have been dealt with. This is called “ancillary relief”. Please see the Finance’s section for further information.
A good solicitor does make a difference. We adopt a constructive and conciliatory approach.