What’s the Benefit of Cross Petition in Divorce?
04 September 2018
The benefit of a Cross Petition in divorce is that you can refute the reason given by your ex in the Divorce Petition, giving you the opportunity to say why, in your opinion, your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
It's important to note that there are also disadvantages of issuing a Cross Petition in divorce, namely the extra time and expense involved. It may therefore be prudent to explore alternative ways forward. One option is to state that while you do not wish to defend the divorce, you do not agree to the reasons given in the Divorce Petition.
One of our Divorce Solicitors can explain the advantages and disadvantages of a Cross Petition with you in more detail, exploring the different options that would be most suitable in your circumstances.
Defended Divorce Cross Petition
If your ex begins divorce proceedings against you, he/she must file a Divorce Petition stating the reason why the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are five reasons (grounds) for divorce, which in England and Wales are:
AdulteryUnreasonable behaviourTwo years separation and you both agree to the divorceFive years separationDesertion
The first two reasons – adultery and unreasonable behaviour – are fault-based reasons. In other words, your ex is saying that your actions caused the marriage to break down. He/she must prove this allegation by citing examples or your adultery or unreasonable behaviour.
If you do not agree with the reasons your ex gives in the Divorce Petition, you might want to defend the divorce and issue your own Cross Petition. This allows you to state why you believe the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and effectively means that you and your ex are divorcing each other on your own grounds (reasons).
Pros and Cons of a Cross Petition in Divorce
There are two main reasons why someone might want to issue a Cross Petition – firstly, to 'set the record straight', and secondly, to refute allegations that could potentially cause problems in the future.
To Set the Record Straight
When you read the reason given by your ex in the Divorce Petition, it might make you feel angry and frustrated. You may have interpreted the end of your marriage completely differently and believe the comments made by your ex are not a true reflection of what happened. You might feel that no one is to blame, or even that your ex's actions caused the marriage to breakdown.
Often this is the main motivation behind a Cross Petition – one person feels aggrieved with the accusations made against them and wants to set the record straight.
However, you should be aware that Divorce Petitions are not public records, and in these circumstances, the only victory you will gain in issuing a Cross Petition is a moral victory. Once the divorce is completed, the matter of what grounds you divorced on won't be of much consequence.
Of course, you may feel very strongly about the matter and want to proceed anyway. It's entirely your choice, but do be warned that issuing a Cross Petition will involve a lot more time and money.
In light of this, you might want to explore alternative options. One potential way forward is Mediation. Another is to issue a statement saying that you do not agree with the reason given in the Divorce Petition, but that you do not wish to defend the divorce.
To Refute Allegations
In certain circumstances, the allegation made against you in the Divorce Petition might be of such a serious nature that you believe it will cause you harm in the future. Typically, people worry that it will affect their ability to see their children, or turn a Judge against them when the financial settlement is being decided.
But unless the allegations are extremely serious, issuing a Cross Petition is unlikely to have any tactical advantage when it comes to negotiating a financial settlement or child care arrangements. The only time this will be a benefit is if you have been wrongly accused of gross misconduct.
If you are concerned that the reason for divorce (and the supporting evidence) cited in the Divorce Petition could adversely affect you in the future, you should speak to a Divorce Solicitor about the options available. In such cases, it might be beneficial to issue a Cross Petition.
Get Legal Advice from a Divorce Solicitor
While there are benefits to issuing a Cross Petition, there are also disadvantages. It's important to explore all the options and take the most pragmatic approach. There are times when issuing a Cross Petition will make you feel better in the short-term, but will not be the best approach in the long-run. In other situations, the opposite is true.
Our Divorce Solicitors can help you understand more about Cross Petitions, advising whether it would be beneficial in your divorce.
At Co-op Legal Services we offer fixed fee divorce for an uncontested divorce (both spouses agree to divorce). This service provides you with a Divorce Solicitor to take you through the divorce process.
For contested divorce (one spouse does not agree to divorce) or additional divorce services we provide a fixed hourly Divorce Solicitor rate.