A guide to the main stages involved when you apply for a divorce

November 5, 2019

 

Most people go through months if not years of soul-searching before finally deciding they want a divorce.

 

There are so many factors to consider including children, money, your home…and even if your marriage really is over. You may find counselling or mediation helpful, and you should certainly consult your solicitor before making any final decision.

 

However, if you’re sure that divorce is the best or only way forward, these are the main stages throughout the procedure.

 

Grounds for divorce

 

To seek a divorce, you will need to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be for one of five reasons: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years if you both agree to the divorce, or five years if your spouse disagrees.

 

It will make the process easier if you and your spouse have agreed the grounds for divorce and are able to cooperate throughout the proceedings, but if not, you can still go ahead.

 

Applying for a divorce

 

You will need fill out form D8 to ask the court to end your marriage or civil partnership. Your solicitor will help you with this. You will need to include information such as your spouse’s full name and address, and your original marriage certificate. Three copies are then sent to your nearest divorce centre. If you named someone with whom your husband or wife committed adultery, a fourth copy will be needed to send to them.

 

The fee for filing for divorce is £550. The court will assign a case number and send your spouse a copy of the form.

 

Spouse responds

 

Your spouse must respond within eight days of receiving the form. If they agree to the divorce, you can then apply for a Decree Nisi.

 

If your spouse disagrees, they will have to complete a form giving their reasons within 28 days. If they fail to do so, you can proceed to applying for a Decree Nisi.

 

Decree Nisi

 

This is a document from the court stating that it does not see any reason why you cannot divorce. If your spouse doesn’t contest the divorce, you can then proceed to applying for a Decree Absolute. If they do contest it, there may have to be a court hearing.

 

If your application is refused you will be sent a ‘notice of a refusal of judge’s certificate’ form explaining why. It will also explain what you need to do next; it may simply be that the judge requires more information, either in writing or in person at a court hearing.

 

If the judge decides to grant a decree nisi, your spouse will be sent a certificate informing them of the date it takes effect. The Decree Nisi does not mean you are now divorced; for that you will need a Decree Absolute.

 

You have to wait 43 days from the granting of the Decree Nisi before you can apply for the Decree Absolute.

 

Deciding the Settlement

 

Throughout the divorce procedure, and preferably even before it begins, you and your spouse will need discuss a settlement that is fair to both of you. This covers issues such as where the children will live and how much contact they will have with each of you. The other important matter is how the marital assets will be divided and whether ongoing payments will be necessary, especially to the spouse who is looking after the children.

 

Hopefully you will be able to come to an amicable agreement about the settlement but if not, there may need to be a court hearing. Either way, the settlement needs to be in place before you apply for the Decree Absolute.

 

Decree Absolute

 

This is the final legal document confirming that you are now divorced and free to marry again if you wish.

 

This, of course, is just a brief outline of the main stages of divorce. There can be many twists and turns throughout the proceedings, especially if the divorce is contested or there are disagreements about the financial settlement or child arrangements.

 

It’s important get good legal advice at each step of the way to protect your interests and reduce potential stress to a minimum.

 

If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 0208 004 0065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below.

 

The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

 

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