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Divorce can be a simple process, but it can also be quite frustrating. As a result, we’ve compiled this rough guide; we hope it helps.

Divorce Process

Before starting the divorce process, it is extremely important that you decide whether you require assistance – i.e. and online company or solicitor – or whether you intend to apply for your divorce yourself. You should also ensure that you have a copy of your marriage certificate as you will be required to quote section of it when filling in your forms. You will also be required to pay a court fee of £550 when you file your divorce petition.

Stage 1 – Application for divorce – Filing the petition

This is the first step. A petition form will need to be completed by whichever spouse has decided to act as the petitioner i.e. the one pursuing the divorce. It is very important that you have your original marriage certificate to hand when you complete this form because you will be asked about your place of marriage. This may seem simple, but it is not uncommon for people to make errors when completing this section of their form; the most common mistake being a failure to quote exactly what is written on the marriage certificate after the phrase ‘marriage solemnised at’. This will generally include phrases such as ‘in the parish of’, ‘in the district of’ and so on. It is extremely important that you state exactly what is written on your marriage certificate as your petition will be rejected and you will face an admin charge as a result. Worse yet, the court may not return your original court fee to you and you will be required to pay this fee again in order to recommence proceedings.

Feedback we have received indicates that the most difficult part of stage 1 is deciding which grounds you intend to us in order to file for divorce. There are five options to choose from and you must select one of these. The five options are as follows:

Adultery

Unreasonable Behaviour

Two-year separation with consent

Five-year separation

Desertion

It can be difficult to choose because many couples may feel that they fall into more than one category or even none at all. Speaking to someone who has been through it or who knows about the divorce process will almost certainly assist with this, however, and will almost certainly to be invaluable support in the long run.

Once the form is completed you will need to send it together with payment for the court fees and your original marriage certificate to your Regional Divorce Centre.

Stage 2 – Acknowledgement of service

This is where some time can be saved. If you and your spouse are proceeding on an uncontested basis then things will be much easier. The court will send your spouse (now known as the respondent) a copy of the petition and they will need to inform the court that they have acknowledged service by returning a form D10 to the relevant court. Sometimes it is necessary to use a process server or a bailiff in order to get proof of service and they can then provide the court with evidence to prove that the respondent has been served. The courts website can provide you with further help if required; alternatively you could enlist the assistance of a solicitor.

If the respondent does not agree to a divorce and your application becomes contested, it would be advisable that you consult with a solicitor if you have not already done so. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on what steps will now need to be taken in order for your divorce to be finalised and will also be able to answer any queries you may have.

The next two sections of this article assume that your divorce is uncontested and that both you and your spouse agree to a divorce.

Stage 3 – Application of a decree nisi

Once your spouse has returned their D10 to the court, a copy of this will then be sent to you and you will be able to apply for a decree nisi. In order to apply for your decree nisi, you will need to complete a form D84 and a form D80 (otherwise known as an affidavit of evidence) and send these to the relevant court. You should also enclose a copy of your spouse’s D10 form.

Previously, it was necessary to have these documents sworn by either the court’s staff or a solicitor prior to submitting them, but this is no longer necessary and the documents can simply be posted directly to the relevant court as a result.

Stage 4 – Application of a decree absolute

Following you having made your application, you should receive your decree nisi and you will be able to apply for a decree absolute six weeks and one day after this document has been issued to you. You can wait for up to twelve months before filing for your decree absolute, however, and it is during the period between you have received your decree nisi and decree absolute that you should finalise any arrangements that are outstanding. We would strongly recommend that you at least consider filing a clean break consent order during this period.

In order to file for your decree absolute, you will need to complete and send a D36 form to the court. Following this, both you and your spouse will receive a decree absolute from the courts as confirmation of the fact that you are now divorced. You should keep this document safe.

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