A Quick Guide to Divorce Proceedings

We give an overview of the different aspects involved in a divorce.

The Petition 

The petition is the court form that must be completed to begin the divorce process. You will need the name, address and date of birth of both you and your spouse. From 22nd April 2014 the court do not require a statement of arrangements form concerning the children to be lodged with the petition.

Statement of Reconciliation

If you have a solicitor acting for you, they must discuss reconciliation with you and will need to complete this form. If you are acting for yourself, this form does not need to be filled in.

Court fees

There is a court fee payable which has recently increased to £550. If you receive certain benefits you may be fee exempt. Ask your solicitor about this fee.


You can seek the costs of the divorce process from your spouse but the court will only allow reasonable costs and these may not cover all the costs of your solicitor. Often the parties agree not to claim costs from each other. You should note that these are only costs relating to the actual divorce process and not any proceedings that deal with joint finances.

The above documents are submitted to the court with an original copy of your marriage certificate. If you married abroad a notarised translation of your marriage certificate is also required.

The Court

Once the court receive the petition and other paperwork they are checked and, if correct, sent to your spouse with a form of “Acknowledgment of Service” that the court provide. Your spouse has 7 days to complete the Acknowledgment and return it to the court who will then forward a copy to you.

The Acknowledgment is used to prove that your spouse has received the petition. If you have commenced your divorce using 2 years separation with consent your spouse will be asked to confirm their agreement on this form.

Your spouse can also agree or disagree with any claim for costs made on the petition.

Defending the divorce

It can be difficult for a Respondent to defend a divorce petition. If a petition has been filed alleging that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, even if a Respondent does not accept this or does not accept the unreasonable behaviour alleged, it will be difficult to prove that the marriage is still in existence.

Application for Decree Nisi

Once a time for filing the Acknowledgment of Service has passed, or the Acknowledgment has been returned by your spouse, application can be made for Decree Nisi. Once the court have received the application, the Judge will check the paperwork and if satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and the paperwork is in order, will grant the Decree Nisi.

Application for Decree Absolute

Six weeks after the grant of Decree Nisi, the Petitioner can apply for the decree to be made absolute. It is wise to seek legal advice before doing so as on most occasions it is appropriate to deal with the financial aspects of the divorce before applying for Decree Absolute.

If no application is made for Decree Absolute by the Petitioner, a Respondent can apply 3 months after the 6 week period has elapsed. The Court will notify the Petitioner of such an application in case there is a reason that the Petitioner has not previously applied.

The court will list the hearing of the Decree Absolute on a date notified. There is no need to attend court for the pronouncement and most people do not. If costs have been claimed by the Petitioner and the Respondent has objected, then attendance at court may be required to deal with the issue of costs. 

For advice and information relating to divorce and financial relief matters generally, please contact Anne Green on 01704 531991 or email annegreen@hhlegal.co.uk 

  • 20th April 2016