These are five key stages everyone needs to go through to get a divorce.
The process for obtaining a divorce is likely to take at least four to six months, and can potentially be much longer, depending on how complicated it is and whether both parties are in agreement. There are five stages to the process, as outlined below.
1. Divorce Petition
Proceedings begin when one party, known as the Petitioner, completes a Divorce Petition and sends it to the court. This can be drawn up and filed by a solicitor on the Petitioner’s behalf. The Petition needs to state the reason why the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which will be one of five reasons:
• Unreasonable behaviour
• 2 years’ separation where the parties agree to a divorce
• 5 years’ separation if there is no agreement
2. Acknowledgement of Service
The court will send a copy of the Divorce Petition to the other party, who is known as the Respondent. The Respondent then needs to send an Acknowledgement of Service back to the court by way of a receipt. This is then sent to the Petitioner. The Respondent also has the opportunity to enter a defence or dispute the facts of the Petition.
3. Certificate of Entitlement
If the Respondent has chosen not to defend the Petition, the Petitioner can ask the court for a Certificate of Entitlement to a decree. The Petitioner needs to swear an oath confirming that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. If the court is satisfied, it will issue a Certificate of Entitlement to a Decree including the date upon which the Decree Nisi will be granted.
4. Decree Nisi
The court will issue the Decree Nisi on the date stated in the Certificate of Entitlement. The document confirms that the court is satisfied that the criteria for divorce have been met.
5. Decree Absolute
Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is issued, the Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute. This is the document that legally ends the marriage.
Financial proceedings are separate to divorce proceedings and cannot be started until the divorce is under way. It is advisable to seek legal advice on financial matters before a divorce is finalised.
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