What is the divorce process?
Whether you are contemplating divorce or you have already made your mind up and there's no going back, you will have many questions about what comes next. Here is an outline of the divorce process to give you more certainty in a difficult time.
Before, starting divorce proceedings it's important to know that there are certain legal requirements for divorce.
Firstly, you must have been married for a year. Secondly, you must prove the relationship has irretrievably broken down. This can be demonstrated by one of the follow circumstances:
- Your partner has committed adultery and you cannot continue to live with them
- They have behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together i.e. they have been violent towards you
- They have abandoned you for a continuous period of 2 years or more
- You and your partner have been living separately for 2 years or more and you both agree to the divorce
- You and your partner have been living separately for 5 years or more
All divorces in the UK must be started by issuing a divorce petition, Form D8, accompanied by your original marriage certificate. If you do not have your original marriage certificate, and you married in the UK, you can order a copy from the General Register Office. Your solicitor will issue the divorce petition for you but will need to know:
- Your partner's current address or last known address
- Their date of birth
- The date you separated
- Their occupation
- The full address of any properties in your name, their name or in joint names and the details of any mortgages on these properties
All divorce proceedings are now issued to a centralised divorce unit rather than your local court. The centralised unit for London and South East is Bury St. Edmunds.
When the unit receives your divorce petition, it will be logged on the court system and given a case number. The court will then serve the petition to your partner. They then have 14 days to return a completed 'acknowledgement of service' to the court.
If your partner does not complete the acknowledgement of service, the court can 'deem service' or 'dispense service' depending on your case. Your solicitor can advise you on which one to pursue but either way will allow you to continue.
Once this is completed you can apply for 'Decree Nisi'. A Decree Nisi is a document that says the court doesn't see any reason why you can't divorce. When the Decree Nisi is granted you'll have to wait 43 days before you can apply for a 'Decree Absolute' to end the marriage. During this time you can finalise the financial aspects of the marriage and child arrangements.
It is recommended you wait until finances and child arrangements are agreed before you apply for 'Decree Absolute'. Once it is granted the marriage is dissolved as a matter of law and both parties are free to go their separate ways.
If both parties agree to the divorce it can be relatively straight forward. The difficulty tends to lie in the practical issues such as where to live or child custody. It's really important that you get professional help. These aspects of the divorce can be life changing.
If you're considering divorce or have any questions about the process please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.