Filing for divorce
You don’t need to have a Solicitor acting for you to file for divorce. It of course helps to have a professional involved who will know the procedures involved and how to best word your divorce petition. However, there is no legal requirement for you to be represented in England and Wales when filing for a divorce.
There are two main routes for a divorce: –
- The undefended route, where both parties consent to a Decree of divorce being granted.
- The defended route, whereby the parties will need to attend Court and appear before a Judge to give evidence for the Judge to decide whether the Petitioner is entitled to a Decree of divorce.
The most popular route is the undefended route in that it is extremely difficult to defend divorce proceedings and it is only in very rare occasions that there will be a Contested Hearing before a Judge in respect of a contested divorce.
There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The Petitioner will need to bring evidence to the Court to this effect in one of five ways: –
- The Respondent spouse has committed adultery.
- The Respondent spouse has acted unreasonably to the extent that the Petitioner cannot be reasonably expected to continue to live with him/her.
- The Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for 2 years or longer.
- The parties have been separated for 2 years or longer and consent to a Decree of divorce.
- The parties have been separated for 5 years and in this instance, no consent from the Respondent spouse is required.
The first step in filing for a divorce is to draft a Divorce Petition and this has to be worded extremely carefully in order for it to be accepted by the Court. Indeed, any error in the drafting of the Petition will be returned to the Petitioner which may be frustrating in that this will cause delay and also frustrate the Petitioner to the effect that the Petitioner will then either abandon the application or seek the assistance of a Solicitor who will be able to draft the Petition correctly.
The original Marriage Certificate or a certified copy must be filed with the divorce Petition in order for the Court to process the application. A Court fee of £550 is payable and if the Petitioner is on a limited income or in receipt of benefits, he or she may apply for a fee remission, either for a full remission whereby no fee is payable or for a part remission where only a percentage of the fee will be payable. The Court will liaise directly with the Petitioner – or his/her acting solicitor to confirm what fee is payable, if any.
Once the Petition has been lodged with the Court, the Court will take responsibility to send a copy to the Respondent although it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to send 3 copies of the divorce Petition to the Court in order for the Court to effect service.
The Respondent spouse will then have 14 days to return his Acknowledgement of Service Form back to the Court and if he fails to do that, then the Petitioner will need to consider alternative ways of service on the Respondent spouse. This is when the Petitioner may seek advice and/or assistance from a Solicitor in order to make progress with the divorce.
Once service has been effected, the Petitioner will be able to apply for the special procedure for undefended divorces and apply for Decree Nisi. A Judge will then consider all papers filed to date and issue a certificate of entitlement to a Decree or of non-entitlement of a Decree and fix a Hearing for Decree Nisi.
Only when the issue of costs needs to be considered will the parties need to attend Court; otherwise, there is no need to attend Court for the pronouncement of Decree Nisi.
The Petitioner will then need to wait for 6 weeks and a day to lodge an application to make the Decree Nisi Absolute which will complete the divorce procedure and the marriage will be dissolved by law.
It will be extremely important for the Petitioner, and indeed the Respondent, to keep the final Decree Absolute in a safe place to produce to any authorities in the future or in the event that either spouse wish to remarry.
Should you need assistance in respect of a divorce, please contact one of our specialists in our family team who will be able to assist and may be able to offer a fixed fee for undefended divorce at a competitive rate.
How can Askews help you?
Askews Legal LLP has a dedicated team of family law specialists who can assist with any divorce issues. For further advice or to obtain a quote, please contact Sophia Mellor, Head of Family and Child Law at Askews Legal LLP
T: 024 76 231000
Askews Legal LLP – Solicitors Coventry.