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How do I start a divorce proceeding?

There might come a point in your life where you feel that divorce is the only option you have. In such an unfortunate time, you will need to be clear on how you can start the divorce proceedings. In this post, we’ll explain the process of starting divorce proceedings in simple terms.

In order to get a divorce, you need to have been married for one year. We explain this in more detail in our post here.

To start the divorce you will need to the following:

1)    File a document, called a Petition, to the Court to initiate the divorce process. Only one spouse can file for a divorce (the Petitioner). The other party is known as the Respondent.

It is recommended that you use the services of a solicitor to assist you with your divorce because it can be a complicated process. If you were to file for a divorce yourself, you will need to use the D8 divorce petition form. Before you file the form, you need to find a valid ground for divorce.

2)    Apply for a Decree Nisi.

3)    Apply for a Decree Absolute.

Find a valid ground for divorce

Before you fill out the divorce form, you must find a valid ground to get a divorce. You have to prove that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” from one of the following reasons:

  •    Adultery (You have six months to file for a divorce after learning of the adultery)Divorce proceedings
  •    Unreasonable Behaviour
  •    Two Years Separation with the other spouse’s consent
  •    Five Years Separation
  •    Two Years Desertion

Adultery – If your partner has cheated on you with another person, it would be a strong enough reason to seek a divorce. However, adultery in this scenario refers to penetrative sex between your spouse and another person. This can be difficult to prove in court if your spouse refuses to accept they committed adultery. In case of such divorces, you have six months to file for a divorce after learning of the adultery.

Unreasonable Behaviour – This could mean violence, bullying or verbal abuse, drink or drug abuse, financial disagreements or unfaithfulness. There are a number of things that can constitute as unreasonable behaviour. This is the most often used reason for divorce, even used in case of adultery.

Two Years Separation with the other spouse’s consent – If you and your spouse have been apart for two years with each others consent, the divorce process can be started.

Five Years Separation – The same as above, but the separation doesn’t need to have your spouse’s consent.

Two Years Desertion – If your spouse has deserted you and you don’t have any contact with them, a divorce will be granted by the court,

What is the process for a divorce?

The divorce procedure is started by the Petitioner, who issues a Petition. This is the application that needs to be submitted to Court in order for them to grant permission to divorce. As mentioned above, this is called a D8 Divorce Petition and includes personal information about spouses and  reasons for relationship breakdown.

This Petition is sent to the Court with the Court Fee of £550. This is then sent to the Respondent, together with an Acknowledgment of Service Form.

The Respondent should complete the Acknowledgment of Service Form indicating whether he or she wants to defend the divorce. They have 8 days to return the Acknowledgment of Service to the Court.

Decree Nisi

Once the Court receives the Acknowledgement of Service, a copy is sent to the Petitioner. The Petitioner then applies for the Decree Nisi. This is a document where the Court accepts that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down,” and the grounds for the divorce have been proven. This confirms that you are able to get a divorce and there are no good reasons against it. The word “nisi” is Latin and it means “unless”.

The Court will set a date for the formal pronouncement of the Decree Nisi.

Decree Absolute

The Petitioner should then apply for the Decree Absolute six weeks after the Decree Nisi. A Decree Absolute legally ends the marriage, which means both parties are divorced and can remarry.

How long does a divorce take?

The above is a general overview of what the divorce process is usually like. However, the divorce process can vary depending on the circumstances of a divorcing couple. A divorce can take three to four months,  however, the divorce process can vary depending on the circumstances of a divorcing couple.

The timing usually depends on whether a party delays in taking steps during the process or if there are any problems with the Court.

To get a better understanding of your case, you should consult with a divorce solicitor who can give you advice based on your specific scenario.

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