Posted by The Family Law Company on 19th December 2011

To help you prepare, the following is a step by step guide to the process of divorce and what you should expect:

  1. The court serves the Petition together with the Statement of Arrangements for Children and an Acknowledgment of Service on the Respondent.
  2. Within 8 days the Respondent should file the Acknowledgment of Service.
  3. The court sends the Petitioner a copy of the acknowledgement filed by the Respondent.
  4. The Petitioner’s solicitor prepares an application for Decree Nisi including an Affidavit for the Petitioner to swear confirming that the contents of the Petition and Statement of Arrangements are true.
  5. Both the Petitioner and Respondent are then advised of the date fixed for the Decree Nisi. The date is likely to be a few weeks after the application was lodged.
  6. 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi the Petitioner may apply for the Decree Absolute.

The Decree Absolute cannot be made until the District Judge has granted a certificate that he is satisfied with the arrangements for the children, which he/she will have checked in above. The reason for this is that when a Decree Absolute is made, spouses are no longer man and wife. If one spouse who has a pension dies, then the other “ex spouse” may well have lost valuable widow(er)’s pension for all time. Similarly on remarriage you can lose the right to claim for financial provision unless you have already applied to the court and your claims are outstanding.

How Long Will it Take?

Depending on the complexity of the case, a divorce usually takes between six to eight months. This is excluding financial or children issues.

However if there is any delay or difficulty with having the Respondent return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court it could take approximately 12 months.

Holding Back

In certain circumstances you may be advised to defer the decree absolute until all finances are settled. The reason for this is that when a Decree Absolute is made, spouses are no longer man and wife and if one spouse who has a pension dies before the finances have been resolved (but after the Decree Absolute is made), then the “ex spouse” may well have lost valuable widow(er)’s pension for all time.

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