How to File for Divorce in the UK …
The bad news is your marriage or civil partnership is over. But the good news is it’s now a lot simpler to get divorced thanks to the online system. I’m going to explain what you need to look out for and what it all means.
There’s rarely any need to attend Court and the whole process takes only four to six months but this doesn’t include the finances and and it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until they’re sorted out.
But if you would rather a lawyer do the divorce for you make sure you chose one who is committed to a non confrontational approach to family problems, such as Just Family Law’s Joanne Houston.
How a divorce starts …
One of you fills in a divorce petition (the petitioner) and the Court serves it on the other (the respondent).
What a divorce does …
It ends a marriage or a civil partnership but it doesn’t sort out the finances or the arrangements for the children.
Take the bull by the horns …
Did you know that divorce, finances and the arrangements for the children can all be addressed at the same time? See my blog What comes first, divorce or settlement?
If you can’t agree between yourselves you have the following options:
- Help from a lawyer
- Start Court proceedings yourself
- Collaborative law
Collaborative law is an opportunity to build a positive future for you and your family. See my recent blog What is collaborative law?
What’s needed to start a divorce …
- Marriage certificate
- Court fee of £550 unless you’re eligible to exemption from fees
- The respondent’s address
Here’s a link to an application form to help with Court fees
How to fill in the divorce petition …
The online divorce service is on the GOV.UK site, here’s a link
It’s straightforward to fill in but there are some tricky questions. For example if you weren’t born in either England or Wales or if you live in another country. Or if you don’t know the respondent’s address. There are notes to help you but don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.
The grounds for divorce …
The most popular is unreasonable behaviour. The least contentious is two year’s separation with consent. See my blog, Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know
Financial claims …
The form asks, “Do you want to apply for a financial order?” To be on the safe side tick Yes as the Court will take no action but it will leave it open for the future. Don’t risk missing out on pensions or the business or being left with debts that aren’t yours. And a Consent Order recording your financial settlement is essential to protect you.
Don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.
How to answer, “Costs – if you wish to claim costs from the respondent.” There are a number of things to bear in mind:
- the expense of the Court fee to start a divorce which is currently £550
- the availability of exemption from fees (see above “What’s needed to start a divorce”)
- whether the respondent can afford to pay a costs order
- the likelihood of the Court making a costs order
If you aren’t eligible to exemption from fees, and the respondent can afford to pay a costs order, see if the respondent will agree to pay or at least contribute.
The respondent defends the petition. See my blog No fault divorce, your questions answered about the Owens case and the risk of the respondent defending an unreasonable behaviour petition.
What happens next …
The Court serves your divorce petition on the respondent and they acknowledge service of it, which means they fill in a form saying they’ve received the petition. Once you receive the acknowledgment of service from the Court you can fill in a statement in support.
Next the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi. You don’t have to attend Court for this.
The decree nisi …
Your marriage isn’t over yet but it’s an important stage if you are sorting out financial matters as a Consent Order recording your settlement can now be sealed by the Court.
Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. But there are pros and cons. Should you wait until you have obtained a Court order confirming the financial arrangements between you? See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? How to protect your financial settlement
The decree absolute …
- You are no longer married
- You can remarry or enter a civil partnership
- Your consent order about the finances comes into force
How to File for Divorce in the UK
Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to File for Divorce in the UK. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.
The topics covered in this blog post How to File for Divorce in the UK are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.
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