What is the divorce process?

A divorce typically involves three written applications being submitted to the Court. Generally speaking, you will not be required to attend Court for any hearing in connection with a divorce or any allegations that you make. If the person seeking a divorce asks a Judge for a Court Order, asking the person responding to the divorce to pay the legal costs, and this is disputed, you may be asked to attend Court.

The legal process of divorce ends your contract of marriage. The divorce process does not resolve all issues relating to property, money and children upon separation – whilst connected, these issues involve separate legal procedures.

If you want to divorce, it is unlikely you will need to attend Court. If you have disagreements involving your finances or children and separate legal proceedings have started, then you may have to attend Court hearings to resolve these issues.

There are three key stages in the divorce process:

  1. Application for divorce: This is called the ‘Petition for Divorce’ and is an application form which must be completed giving factual information and reasons why the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The application is sent to the Court together with your marriage certificate and the Court fee of £410. The Court sends a copy of your application to your husband or wife together with a form for them to complete. If you have a low income you may be exempt from paying the Court fee if a ‘fees exempt form’ is completed along with evidence of income and outgoings.
  2. Application for a Decree Nisi certificate: Once your husband or wife has responded to the Court’s request to complete a form , you can apply for Decree Nisi by completing the relevant forms and sending these to the Court. Decree Nisi is a provisional certificate issued by the Court specifying that a divorce can take place. 
  3. Decree Absolute: Six weeks and a day after Decree Nisi, an application can be sent to the Court requesting the final divorce certificate, Decree Absolute. Once this certificate is issued, you are officially divorced and free to remarry. In some cases it is sensible to delay applying for Decree Absolute – you should obtain legal advice about when to apply for Decree Absolute.

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