A divorce occurs when a married couple decide that for whatever reasons, they wish to terminate their marriage.
There may be many reasons why people may eventually decide to get divorced, it can be a costly process and can cause great stress to both parties involved. The main reasons for divorce are:
adultery by either part
unreasonable behaviour by either party
How do I begin the proceedings?
The first step towards getting the divorce process started is a form called a “petition for divorce” this is also known as form D8. You must fill in three copies of this document:
- One for yourself
- One for the court
- One for your partner.
You can get this petition either from a solicitor or from the HM Courts Service website, once it has been filled out you take it to a divorce county court, or to the Principal Registry of the Family Division found in London. It is important to note that you cannot file for divorce unless you have been married for one year, you will also have to state the reason for wanting a divorce on the form.
What do I do next and what happens?
- You will only be granted a divorce if a judge agrees that the marriage is at an end or in legal terms if the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”.
- Once your completed form has been returned to the divorce county court, the process of divorce has been started. The person who started the proceeding is known as the “petitioner” whilst the other party is known as the “respondent”.
- Copies of your marriage certificate along with details of any children involved and the name and address of any persons with whom either party has committed adultery (if you wish to name them) must be supplied.
- The next stage is referred to legally as “Serving the petition” – this basically means that a copy of the petition is posted to the husband or wife, they then have eight days to acknowledge the petition.
- If however, they do not do this you will be contacted by the court and asked for further details. If it becomes necessary it can be arranged for a court official – otherwise known as a bailiff – to serve the petition in person.
What happens next depends entirely upon whether the husband or wife contests or agrees to the divorce. If there are children involved then the court will need to examine arrangements made for them and agree, this includes who they will reside with, and what access or contact they will continue to have with the non-resident parent.
Decree Nisi – What is this?
This is the next part of the proceedings and this is the first stage towards getting an actual divorce.
- Once the judge has reviewed all papers and information given, they will decide if they are satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for a divorce.
- At this stage you may be required to attend court, but this is unusual and usually takes place through the postal service.
Decree Absolute – What is this?
This is the final stage in the proceedings and can only be applied for six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi. If you do not apply then your husband or wife may apply for it but only after a further three months have passed. Once you receive the Decree Absolute, the divorce has been finalised and you are free to remarry.