The Divorce Process

A man signing divorce papers
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It’s important to note that every divorce is different. Each will vary when it comes to how long it takes to resolve matters. With that said, there are steps that always need to be taken to file for divorce and legally end your marriage.

Here is an overview and easy to understand guide to the divorce process in England and Wales:

1) Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer

2) File a divorce petition

3) Send your spouse the petition and acknowledgement of service

4) Apply for a Decree Nisi

5) Apply for a Decree Absolute

Our divorce and separation page will give you more information on the grounds needed to successfully file a divorce.

1. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer

We recommend that your first course of action should always be to seek the help of an experienced divorce solicitor. Even if you are trying for an amicable divorce, it’s usually best to have the details checked by a divorce lawyer so they cannot be challenged in court at a later date.

You can get in touch with KMJ for a FREE no-obligation consultation.

2. File a divorce petition

A divorce is a legally binding contract. A divorce petition (D8) has to be filed with the courts, stating the grounds for divorce. Your divorce solicitor will guide you through this step. They will make sure your circumstances fit the grounds for divorce then help you put together any evidence needed to back up your petition.

3. Send your spouse the petition and acknowledgement of service

From here, your spouse will be sent a copy of the divorce petition and an acknowledgement of service form for them to fill in and return. Again, this is something that needs to be handled correctly to prevent any halts in proceedings. If the spouse requires help to ensure the document is completed correctly, they should opt for a ‘respondent divorce service.’

Your spouse (the respondent) has seven days from the date of receiving to complete and return the acknowledgement of service. If you have any concerns at this stage, it’s always a good idea to turn to your divorce solicitor for advice and peace of mind.

4. Apply for a Decree Nisi

Once your spouse has returned a correctly completed acknowledgement of service, without defending your divorce petition, your next step is to apply for a decree nisi. This document is to state that the courts see no legal reason why yourself and your spouse can’t divorce.

You will need to complete a statement form to confirm everything in your divorce petition is true, as well as why you are eligible. You will need to fill in the statement form that relates to the grounds you have specified, the five forms to choose from are as follows:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation
  • Five years separation

From here, the courts will announce a day for your decree nisi to be announced in court. This is a legal formality and you are not required to attend. Following this, both you and your divorce lawyer will be sent the decree nisi for confirmation of its completion.

5. The Decree Absolute

Once you have a decree nisi, you will then have to wait for 43 days until you are able to apply for a decree absolute, which is the document confirming your divorce and the end of your marriage. Your divorce lawyer will take care of this, ensuring it is dealt with as soon as legally possible and without error.

The decree absolute is a recognition of the divorce itself and won’t include information about settlements or dividing of assets. Using the six-week waiting period to work with your divorce lawyer will be crucial to handle these types of issues. It will also allow you to walk away from the marriage with everything sorted once you receive the decree absolute.

Are you confused or worried about the process of your divorce? Here at KMJ Solicitors, we have a team of experienced London divorce lawyers who will assist you through every step of your divorce, to ensure a quick and fair resolution. Get in touch today for a FREE no-obligation consultation.

Clayton spent five years working in family law with a firm in Australia before moving to the UK in 1999. He deals with all aspects of family law, specialising in all family matters, offshore trusts, company structures, international law, prenuptial agreements, high net worth cases and cohabitation law.