Will I Have to Go to Court to Get a Divorce?

10 May 2017

Getting a divorce can be difficult but if both people agree to the divorce this can result in a straightforward divorce process. Therefore in the majority of cases it’s unlikely that you will need to appear in Court at any point in the divorce procedure.

However, on occasion some complications can arise, which will mean that both people would have to attend Court.

Defended Divorce

The first occasion when this may happen is when one of the parties does not agree to the divorce going ahead. This is called a Defended Divorce. The person who does not want the divorce would have to complete an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form when he or she receives the Divorce Petition. There is a clear question within the Acknowledgement of Service which asks if the divorce is defended.

In the event that one person chooses to defend a divorce, you should both get legal advice. A defended divorce will delay and complicate divorce proceedings. Further documentation has to be provided to the Court to satisfy the legal requirements.

If the divorce is defended then the Court has to list the matter for a ‘Case Management Hearing’. At this Hearing the Court will rule on the issues that have to be decided, and what evidence (if any) is required. If the divorce remains defended, it will ultimately be listed for a Final Hearing, when a Court will decide whether the divorce can continue or not.

Costs of Divorce

The second occasion when the divorce may end up before a Court is when the issue of costs is not agreed. The divorce ‘Petitioner’, who is the person who starts the divorce proceedings, has the ability to claim the costs of their divorce from the other party, who’s called the ‘Respondent’. Solicitors usually help their clients to achieve an agreement regarding costs, but if this cannot happen, a Judge can decide the issue at the Decree Nisi or Conditional Order Hearing.

Other Reasons You May Need to Attend Court

There are also other matters linked to divorce proceedings that mean you have to go to Court. These include disagreements about financial matters and arrangements regarding children. However these are dealt with separately from your divorce and follow different procedures.

Going to Court is usually only a last resort in all matters, and is normally only required if an agreement cannot be reached any other way.

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