The road to divorce is rarely straightforward, and is often an emotional process that can leave you mentally and physically drained. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the 9 typical stages of divorce from start to finish. It will give you a better understanding of why it’s worth hiring a family and divorce lawyer…
The 9 stages of divorce involve a lot of paperwork and a lot of detail. Depending on the circumstances of your application for divorce, you may have to reveal aspects of your private life that are sensitive and hard to share. Divorce is not always pleasant, but hiring a family and divorce lawyer can ease the pressure on you and provide much needed support.
Summarising the key stages of divorce in simple terms, my aim is to give you an insight into the process and highlight where I, a Leicester divorce lawyer, can help.
Stage 1 – The divorce petition
If you want to file for divorce you must submit a divorce petition (now known as a matrimonial order) to your nearest divorce court (this will be in Leicester if you live in the region). At this stage, I can provide support with completion of a divorce petition form.
Three copies of the form (four if you have named a person with whom your spouse has had an affair, as they will be issued with a copy, too), plus a certified copy of your marriage/civil partnership certificate must accompany your application for divorce. You will also need to pay the £550 family court fee.
Note: You can only file for divorce if you have been married for a duration of 12 months or more.
Stage 2 – Court notifies your spouse
The court will issue your spouse with the matrimonial order application, accompanied by the necessary documentation.
Stage 3 – Service acknowledgement
Your spouse responds to the court by returning a completed, acknowledgement of service form.
Stage 4 – Court responds to you
Upon receiving the acknowledgement of service form, the court will notify you of receipt.
Stage 5 – Your spouse’s opportunity to defend against the divorce
If your spouse contests your matrimonial order, they have 21 days to respond to the court with an ‘answer to a divorce petition form’, giving their reasons for opposing the order. At this stage, your spouse could begin divorce proceedings against you, with a counterclaim.
Stage 6 – You apply for a decree nisi
Once your spouse provides a response, agreeing with or contesting the divorce, you can file for a decree nisi, which is simply a request to proceed with the case. You will need to send the court an application for a decree nisi form, a statement in support, plus a copy of your spouse’s response to your matrimonial order.
At this stage, I can help you confirm the facts of your original matrimonial order by preparing a statement for you, which accompanies your application for a decree nisi.
Stage 7 – Decree nisi awarded
Provided your spouse does not defend the divorce, you will be granted a decree nisi by a family court judge – if they agree with the grounds for divorce, which means that they can see no legal reason for the divorce not to proceed.
Should your spouse oppose the divorce, your case will be heard in court. At this stage, I can provide legal representation in court.
Following the court hearing, the judge may award a decree nisi. However, they may issue you and your spouse with a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’ form, explaining the reasons why you and your spouse can’t divorce.
The judge may request more information at this point or order a further a court hearing.
Stage 8 – Application for a decree absolute
43 days (six weeks and one day) from the date that a decree nisi is awarded, you can apply for a decree absolute, which is the legal document confirming the end of your marriage.
You will need to file a ‘notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute form’, which I can provide assistance with.
If you fail to apply for a decree absolute after four-and-a-half months after the decree nisi has been granted, your spouse can apply for a decree absolute using an application form notice.
Stage 9 – Decree absolute finalised
In legal terms, receiving a decree absolute marks an official end to your marriage!
Other considerations in the stages of divorce
The process above only relates to your divorce. Bear in mind that it does not cover financial issues and child arrangements. As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when filing for divorce, which is why I’m on hand to offer impartial, objective support to help you achieve the right result for your case.