The three main steps in getting a divorce in England or Wales are:
- File a Divorce Petition
- Apply for the Decree Nisi
- Apply for the Decree Absolute
This may look like a simple and straightforward process but it does take time. Starting divorce proceedings is the same as filing divorce papers, as shown below.
Divorce Papers: The Divorce Petition
To petition your spouse for divorce you have to complete a divorce petition form called a D8. You can do this yourself or you can use a Divorce Solicitor to do this with you. In order to complete divorce petition form D8 you will need the following information:
- Your husband or wife's full name and address and date of birth
- The date of your marriage and separation
- Your full name, address and date of birth
- Details of any children, their birth dates, where they live and where they go to school
- Your marriage certificate or a certified copy of it
You will also have to decide which of the five facts (below) that you will use to support that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. These are:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- Separation for 2 Years
- Separation for 5 Years
You must choose which fact accurately reflects your reasons for getting a divorce. There are several rules about which facts can be used without permission from your ex-spouse, so you may want to get legal advice from a Divorce Solicitor before you sign the D8 form.
Once the D8 form has been completed and signed, you should send 3 copies (4 if you have named someone in the divorce in the case of adultery) along with the Court fee (currently £550), to the centralised administration centre that deals with all divorce paperwork now.
Issuing the Divorce Petition
The extra copies of divorce petition form D8 that you send into the administration centre are sent out by the Court to your ex-spouse and anyone who has been named in the divorce because of adultery will also get a copy. This is known as issuing the divorce petition. Included with the issued divorce petition is a notice of proceedings form and an acknowledgment of service form.
Responding to the Divorce Petition
Once these forms have been issued to your spouse they have 3 options to choose from. They also have a period of 14 days after the Divorce Petition has been issued to respond. They can either:
- Agree with the Divorce
- Disagree with the Divorce
- Start their own Divorce Proceedings
If they choose any option but to agree with the divorce, there are Court costs involved for them. If your spouse decides to start their own divorce proceedings, you will probably have to go to Court. If you need to go to Court, asking a specialist Divorce Solicitor to discuss your case and represent you in Court will help you.
If your spouse does not defend the divorce, you can apply for a Decree Nisi. The Decree Nisi document shows that the Judge can see no reason to refuse the divorce. You will need to complete a form to apply for the Decree Nisi and sign a statement of truth. You will need to use the form relevant to one of the five facts you gave in the divorce petition.
Most people who are married will have financial issues to resolve and if there are children, contact and residence issues to work through. These elements do not form part of a divorce anymore but it makes sense to work through them before the Decree Absolute is issued.
You can apply for a Decree Absolute as soon as 6 weeks have passed since the Decree Nisi was issued. This 6 week delay allows you to discuss and agree on the financial aspects of your divorce and any arrangements for your children.
You need to apply for your Decree Absolute within 12 months of the Decree Nisi being issued or a Judge could ask you to explain why you haven't done it yet.
How Long Does Divorce Take?
Most of the time, a divorce will take about 12 months because the central administration centres are handling thousands of divorce cases and the Court system has a backlog too.
In addition, your spouse will need to provide paperwork and evidence to the Court. If they are un-cooperative then the divorce will take a lot longer.
How our Divorce Solicitors Can Help You
Our team of expert Divorce Solicitors can help you with jargon free legal advice and help you to start divorce proceedings. We can deal with all or part of your divorce, depending on the level of support that you want, including helping you to settle your financial affairs and child arrangements.
We will agree our fixed fee with you upfront before any work starts, and once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work, that price will not change.