Every divorce has its own challenges and a solicitor will work towards the best outcome for you, but it can help to understand the rough timeline of a divorce case:
Filing for divorce
You must complete a divorce petition form, along with details such as names and addresses of spouses and any children from the marriage. Under current laws, you’ll also need to provide the grounds of divorce. You’ll need copies of this form and will pay a court fee of £550 to begin divorce proceedings when you submit your petition to your nearest family law court.
Responding to a divorce petition
If your partner has filed for divorce from you, you’ll receive a copy of the divorce petition form.
- Agree with the divorce petition and return an acknowledgement of service form to the court within eight days.
- Disagree with the divorce petition and return an acknowledgement of service form to the court, filling in the part which confirms you are defending the divorce. You have 21 days after submitting this form to explain why you’re defending the divorce. This is known as giving an answer, and you may have to pay a court fee.
- Disagree with the divorce petition and also start your own divorce proceedings.
If a divorce petition has been defended, or both partners issue their own divorce proceedings, the court will typically hold a hearing. The purpose is for both parties to attend and reach an agreement.
Applying for decree nisi (to be Conditional Divorce Order under new rules)
If you received an acknowledgement of service form from your spouse agreeing to your divorce petition, you can apply for a decree nisi.
A decree nisi is the first stage of the two-part divorce order which will dissolve your marriage. It’s a document which confirms the court is happy you’ve met the legal and procedural requirements for divorce.
If your spouse defends the divorce, you can still apply for a decree nisi. You’ll need to fill in section B of the form, which requests a case management hearing before a judge. They will decide whether to grant a decree nisi or not.
Applying for decree absolute (to be Final Divorce Order under new rules)
Six weeks after you have received your decree nisi, you can apply for the decree absolute. This will legally end your marriage. The six weeks gives you time to make arrangements for finances and children, although it can be delayed up to around 12 months.
Once the court has your application and finds no errors, you and your former partner will receive a decree absolute.