Coming to the decision to formally separate from your husband or wife can be like stepping into the dark. While the government has attempted to streamline the process by making the application to petition for divorce online, there are still legal black holes that can cause the petition to come to a grinding halt.
You can only divorce after you have been married for twelve months. You can choose to judicially separate from your spouse, usually for religious or financial reasons without ending your marriage entirely. You can also choose to apply for an annulment, in restricted cases.
There are changes afoot to allow spouses to divorce on a “non fault” basis (i.e. without someone having to take the blame) we currently have the one rule “Irreconcilable Differences” then you will need to select a fact:1. Adultery. Despite marriage being extended to same sex couples, the same has not been applied to this fact. It is still defined as sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.
You, on issuing the petition would be the Petitioner. Your spouse will be the Respondent in the paperwork. You will need to account for where you are both living, under “Jurisdiction” and have an address for service. In the case that you do not have a formal address for your spouse, there are ways to deal with this, which we can assist with.
You can agree to split the cost of the divorce with your spouse, particularly on Adultery or Unreasonable Behaviour, however you will want to be aware of the potential impact of the divorce costs on the finances.
Divorce is now kept very separately to applications on children and to the finances. With even the most amicable of divorces, you will want to have formally in writing how you want your financial affairs to be resolved, which does require you to complete this section of a divorce petition.
You can find the Court that will deal with your petition on the Government website. The Courts have compressed their matters into Divorce Centres. The one that covers most of London and the South East, is Bury St Edmunds.
Depending on your finances and the requirement for privacy, you can apply to the Central Family Court to process your petition instead.
Once you have submitted the petition, you will receive a Notice of Petition, informing you the date of the petition’s issue, and give a time limit for your spouse to complete what is the Acknowledgement of Service. If your spouse does not return the Acknowledgement of Service, we can assist you in moving this forward with the Court’s assistance.
When you have the Acknowledgement of Service or the Court’s permission to proceed with the petition, you will need to complete a request for the Decree Nisi and a corresponding statement relating to the fact used for the divorce. If successful, you will receive a Certificate of
Entitlement from the Court, confirming that you have proved the contents of your petition. If you have applied for costs to be paid by your spouse, an order will be attached. You will also be informed of the date for the Decree Nisi.
The Decree Nisi is your penultimate certificate. It is the first point at which you can file any formal agreement between you and your spouse relating to your finances. There is a six week cooling off period from the date of the Decree Nisi until you can apply for the final certificate, known as the Decree Absolute. Your spouse can also apply for the Decree Absolute, but only fourteen weeks after the Decree Nisi has been issued. They will have to pay a fee and attend Court to explain why they as the Respondent are applying for the final certificate instead of you.
If you have resolved your finances, whether by consent or Court order, you can apply for the final certificate. The Decree Absolute will not contain the reason for the divorce, just name you as the Petitioner, your spouse as the Respondent, the date and place of your marriage and the date of the certificate itself.
You will need to keep the Decree Absolute safe, in the case you choose to remarry. A copy from the Court will require a fee. If you need formal paperwork to effect a change of name as part of your divorce, we are happy to assist.
This can seem extremely daunting. We can help you through this and do our utmost to make this as simple as possible for you. Contact our offices for a quote on our fixed fee service for the divorce.
Call 020 8175 5000 to book a free 30 minute consultation with one of our solicitors.