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Divorce Process

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An overview of the Divorce Process in England and Wales
Applying for a divorce
  • either party makes an application (petition) - the Petitioner
  • the other party is called the Respondent
  • Other parties involved are known as Co-respondents
The Petition

Has to establish the marriage has irretrievably broken down in one of five ways

  • Adultery by the respondent
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion by the respondent for 2 years or more
  • Separation for 2 years and the parties agree
  • Separation for 5 years
Other information to go with the Petition
  • Copies of the petition for service on the respondent
  • Statement of Arrangements for any children of the family (where they will live, contact, schools etc)
  • Marriage certificate
  • Reconciliation statement (if a solicitor is acting for petitioner)
  • Public funding certificate (if applicable)
  • Court Fee
Service on the respondent
  • The following documents are served on the respondent
  • The petition
  • Statement of arrangements
  • Notice of proceedings
  • Acknowledgment of Service (questions and answers to be sent back)
  • Notice of public funding if applicable
Acknowledgement by the respondent


  • Whether there is an intention to defend
  • Whether agrees with arrangements for children
  • Whether agrees to pay costs of divorce
Respondent Agrees:

Affadavit sent to the Court by the Petitioner swearing the accuracy of the Petition

District Judge considers if entitled to a decree - if agrees Decree Nisi date is set

After 6 weeks Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute - Respondent can apply 3 months after the 6 weeks has expired but must do so by Court application

Respondent Disagrees:

Answer required within 29 days - the Court will consider each issue separately - divorce then becomes defended (which is unusual)

Although it is possible to conduct your own divorce (see DiY divorce pages) when there are complications in respect of finances or orders related to children, it is recommended that legal advice be taken.