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How does the divorce process start?

Starting the divorce process can be a daunting prospect. The thought of formally ending your marriage is one that, as you’ll be aware of the significant changes it’s certain to bring, is more than capable of causing anxiety. Whilst these concerns are nearly always misplaced, though, this doesn’t make them any less unpleasant. Fortunately, in our experience, by improving our understanding of how the divorce process should begin, we can placate a great deal of these concerns.

With this in mind, here’s how to start the divorce process in England and Wales:

The couple discuss the divorce

Before actually beginning the process of formally requesting that the courts grant them a divorce, it’s important that couples get together and try and work out how assets should be divided, childcare arrangements and, most importantly, their grounds for divorce.

Decide on the grounds

You may have noticed that calls for no-fault divorce have been commonplace over the last few months and, after you’ve read this section of this post, we think you’ll have a much better understanding of why.

If a couple agree to a divorce and have been living separately for more than two years, then they can utilise what are currently colloquially referred to as the no-fault grounds of two or five-year separation. When these are used, the courts will need to be provided with no detailed information – all they’ll require is an approximate date of separation.

If they, instead, need to rely on the other grounds of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour, the courts will need examples and more precise dates. Crucially, one spouse will need to be blamed for the breakdown of the marriage and this often turns relatively civil spouses into hostile ones; hostility that is only exacerbated should they be unable to agree on who should accept blame for the end of their marriage and be required to wait years before obtaining their divorce.

Should such a dispute arise, it will often be because neither person feels they should accept the blame for the breakdown of the marriage but, if it is instead because they fear detrimental treatment at the hands of the court, they need not worry. The courts rarely consider adultery or unreasonable behaviour to be a valid reason to issue one spouse with a lower or greater award than the other. Most couples also arrive at an agreement on how things should be divided without needing the courts to make this decision.

Find your marriage certificate

Yes, it’s frustrating but you can’t file for a divorce without it so you’re either going to need to find or replace your marriage certificate. If you do need to do the latter, here’s a guide on what to do if you’ve lost your marriage certificate.

Get and complete a Divorce Petition

Also known as a D8, a Divorce Petition is the document you’ll need to complete and submit to the court along with your marriage certificate and you can download a copy here. Once this has been done, you’ll officially have started the divorce process.

Looking for more information on the divorce process? Click on the link to get more information and find out how to contact our advisers today.


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