Divorce procedure and how to get started
Divorce can be due to many reasons and is often very emotionally challenging. Mansouri & Son have the expertise and experience to help relieve some of the pressures and complexities of the divorce procedure; leaving you with much needed peace of mind to start to reconstruct your new life without your partner. Often during divorce you will see a side to your spouse, which you never knew existed. We can help to allay some of your concerns and we will advise you, in plain English, what your rights are and what you can expect to achieve from the divorce.
As part of our ongoing commitment to client satisfaction, our fees structure will be unambiguous and very reasonable. In most cases we will be able to conduct your whole divorce process on a simple Fixed Fee basis, allowing you to budget for the rest of life’s up’s and downs.
To commence a divorce in England & Wales you must first lodge a Petition. The petition will embody the grounds and facts upon which you seek your divorce. It will also embody any financial claim which you may seek against your spouse. If you have children, you will also need to lodge a ‘statement of arrangements for the children’.
To lodge a divorce petition, you will need to have been married for at least 1 year and either you or your spouse must be ordinarily domiciled in England & Wales. It doesn’t usually matter where you were married, as long as you meet this criteria. You will however need the original of your marriage certificate. If you don’t have a marriage certificate, we can advise you of your options. Divorce in England & Wales can only be on the grounds that the ‘marriage has irretrievably broken down‘. This ground for divorce must be supported by at least one of the five available ‘facts‘.
A divorce petition must be based on at least one of the 5 permitted ‘facts’ for divorce. These are:
►You have been separated for 2 or more years and both of you agree to a divorce
►You have been deserted for 2 years. Although this ground does not need to be admitted by your spouse, it is a particularly complex ground on which to seek a divorce.
►you and your spouse have been separated for at least 5 years immediately preceding the lodging of the petition for divorce at court; often called the ‘five year separation rule‘.
read more about the ‘grounds’ for divorce.
The Divorce Process
Once the petition has been drafted it must be sent to the relevant court office, with the accompanying fee, in order that it can be filed. The initial fee charged by the court for filing the divorce petition is currently £340 (as of 1 September 2010).
When the divorce petition has been filed, one copy will be sent to your spouse by the court along with a form called the ‘acknowledgement of service form’. This is your spouses opportunity to state their case and identify whether or not they intend to defend the divorce petition, or alternatively whether they accept the petition. Often you will know in advance what their reaction is going to be. A copy of the ‘acknowledgement of service form’ will be sent to you once your spouse has completed it and returned it to the court.
The next stage requires you to send a document called a ‘request for directions for trial (Special Procedure)‘ to the court. This must be supported by an Affidavit. Where an Affidavit is required, you may need to swear this before a solicitor. There may be a fee for this which is usually about £5-£10.
By this stage a District Judge will check the documents to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken and that all necessary arrangements have been made for any children you may have. If the District Judge is satisfied with the documents, he or she will issue a ‘Decree Nisi‘ of divorce. A Decree Nisi is valid for 6 weeks and effectively means that unless any objections to the grant of the divorce are received within the 6 week period, the court intends to issue a ‘Decree Absolute‘ of divorce, dissolving the marriage, 6 weeks after the issue of the Decree Nisi.
Assuming that no complications arise, 6 weeks after the issue of the Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for a ‘Decree Absolute‘ of divorce; meaning that the divorce is complete and the marriage is legally at an end. There is usually a fee of £45 payable to the court, to obtain the Decree Absolute of divorce.
In an uncontested and straightforward divorce, the process usually takes about 4-6 months from start to finish. However; where you will be seeking a financial settlement or there are disagreements about the division of the matrimonial home or assets, then it is imperative that these are raised before you obtain the Decree Absolute of divorce. Raising these issues after the issue of the decree absolute can present considerable problems.
Many things can complicate a divorce. Examples of these are when you do not know your spouses current whereabouts, or there may be serious disagreement about the children, or worse still, you may be the victim of domestic violence. We can advise and assist you with these and many other complications at all stages of the divorce procedure. For specific advice relating to your particular circumstances, just call 020 8401 7352.