Petitioning for Divorce
Solicitors in Bexleyheath, Petts Wood & Blackheath
If you choose to instruct Aletta Shaw and you are to be the person initiating a divorce, a divorce petition will be drafted by us and sent to the court along with your marriage certificate and where necessary a translation of the marriage certificate.
The court will then issue the application and send a copy of the issued petition to your spouse, together with a form known as the acknowledgement of service. Your spouse will need to answer several questions contained in the form, in particular, whether they intend to defend the petition. The completed form must be returned to court. There is a timescale within which the acknowledgement of service should be returned to the court by your spouse. If your spouse does not complete and returns the form, then you will have to consider how to prove to the court that the papers have been received by your spouse, either by making an application for ‘deemed service’ or by asking the court bailiff or a process server to personally serve him or her with the petition.
If your spouse decides to defend the proceedings the costs will increase substantially, together with the time needed to conclude the divorce. There may even need to be a court hearing, although this happens infrequently.
If your spouse does not defend the petition and returns the acknowledgement of service form to the court, confirming this, the divorce can then proceed to the next stage. The court will send a copy of the acknowledgement of service to us. We will then prepare a short statement in support of the petition, updating the court concerning any changes in either party’s circumstances since the filing of the petition. This must be signed by you and then sent to the court with a request to consider whether you have sufficient grounds for a divorce petition.
The court then considers the divorce petition and whether the legal criteria for a divorce are satisfied and if appropriate, will consider who should pay the costs. If the court is satisfied that there are grounds for divorce notice of the date on which the decree nisi is to be pronounced is sent to both parties, shortly after which, you will receive the decree nisi. The decree nisi is the legal document that confirms that the court can see no reason why the parties cannot be divorced. This is the first of two orders necessary to bring the marriage to an end. It is not the final order itself and therefore you cannot remarry at this stage.
After the decree nisi is pronounced, we will be able to apply for the final order, the decree absolute, six weeks and one day later. If there are financial issues to deal with we would normally delay applying until these issues are finalised.
The divorce can be put on hold at any time before the decree absolute being pronounced. If done before the decree nisi being pronounced it is also possible to dismiss the divorce proceedings. If the decree nisi is pronounced it may be possible to rescind it in certain circumstances, for example where there is a reconciliation.
Based on current court times a straightforward divorce will take approximately 5 – 7 months to complete. This is, of course, based on the assumption that correspondence by all parties is dealt with promptly. It will take a lot longer if the proceedings are defended, if your spouse ignores correspondence or where a decision is made to delay applying for the decree absolute until after financial matters are resolved. As the court has no control over the number of petitions that are filed, this timescale will vary with their backlog and staff shortages. Divorce centres were set up in 2015 to speed up and streamline the divorce process. This has not in reality happened and for those in London and the South East, it can now take twice as long as it did under the old system.
If you do not apply promptly for the decree nisi to be made absolute, then your spouse may apply three months, six weeks and one day after the date of the pronouncement of the decree nisi. If your spouse does apply, then there will have to be a court hearing to determine whether the decree absolute should be granted or not.