What should I do if I am thinking about divorce?
It’s important that you’re comfortable with your solicitor, that you feel they understand your legal needs and the emotional aspects of your situation equally. You need a solicitor who will be available to answer your questions and be with you throughout the journey. Your solicitor will then be able to advise you on the best strategy and approach to take.
The divorce petition
The divorce proceedings begin by delivering a divorce petition to court where it can be issued. To support your claim, in your petition, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by stating details of one of the five reasons for divorce.
The petition must then be served on the respondent with an Acknowledgement of Service form. In order for the divorce to continue without delay the Acknowledgement of Service must be signed by the respondent confirming that he or she does not intend to defend the divorce. The form must then be returned to court within 7 days. A copy of the completed Acknowledgment of Service will then be sent to the petitioner’s solicitors by the court.
Judicial separation & annulment
If you’ve been married for less than a year (or in certain situations longer) it’s possible to commence judicial separation or annulment proceedings. You should bear in mind that judicial separation proceedings will not terminate the marriage and you wouldn’t be free to re-marry. It’s possible to enter a Deed of Separation instead of a divorce, to formally record that you are separated, and to also record any financial agreement.
The application for Decree Nisi is prepared by the petitioner’s solicitors. The application is delivered to the court with a statement in support signed by the petitioner to confirm that the contents of the petition are true. The documents are put before a District Judge who will decide whether the petition is proved.
If the District Judge is satisfied that the petition is proved he or she will sign a certificate stating the date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced. Once pronounced, the court will send a copy of the Decree Nisi to the petitioner’s solicitors and the respondent. As the Decree Nisi is the first stage of the divorce, you’ll remain married until the divorce has been finalised. More on Decree Nisi here.
Applying for Decree Absolute
Six weeks after the Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute. This is the final stage of the divorce and once it is granted by the court your divorce is finalised. The respondent can apply for the Decree Absolute three months after the date on which the petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute. If the application is made by the respondent it is not automatically granted by the court, so the petitioner can oppose it if necessary.
Talk to your partner
The first stage of a relationship breakdown is communication. If possible, you should talk it through with your partner. This is especially important when children are involved.