Step by Step Guide to Divorce

Skipton Solicitor Andrew Foulds receives weekly enquiries about the intricacies of divorce, so he breaks down the procedure of divorce in a step by step guide.
To obtain a divorce in England and Wales, you need to establish that you have been married for more than a year and that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
You also need to establish one of the following grounds:-
  • Adultery (that your spouse has had an affair)
  • Unreasonable behaviour (that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be expected to live with them)
  • Desertion (that your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years prior to issuing the Petition)
  • That you have been living apart for at least 2 years and your spouse also wants a divorce
  • That you have been living apart for 5 years
Simply ‘not getting on’ is not sufficient grounds for a divorce.  
A divorce is started by one person, called ‘the Petitioner’, filing a Petition setting out the grounds for divorce. The spouse receiving the divorce papers is called ‘the Respondent’.
1.    A Divorce Petition is sent to the Divorce Centre (the Court).
2.    A copy is sent to your spouse (‘the Respondent’).
3.    Your spouse completes an Acknowledgement of Service stating whether they intend to contest (defend) the divorce.  Divorce proceedings are very rarely defended.
4.    If undefended, you sign a Statement confirming the details of your divorce petition are true.
5.    The Court considers all the papers and decides if you are entitled to a divorce.
6.    The divorce comes in two parts:-
(a)  Decree Nisi – the Court sets a date for pronouncement of Decree Nisi.  There is no need to attend Court unless there is an issue regarding costs.
(b)  Decree Absolute – 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi, you may apply for the Decree to be made Absolute which brings the marriage to an end.
It is advisable not to apply for the final decree of divorce (Decree Absolute) until such time as financial issues have been resolved and approved by the Court.
How long will it take?
If your spouse co-operates, the process is likely to take 4-6 months.
Sorting out financial issues or issues relating to the children can take considerably longer, sometimes up to 12-18 months.

Occasionally, there are difficulties in proving service of the divorce papers and they may need to be personally served, which will lengthen the process.

If you need further information with regards to divorce proceedings, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Specialist Andrew Foulds on 01756 793 333.
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