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Divorce Law Fact Sheet

We can assist you in a wide range options for resolving your divorce law issues
1. Divorce petition

The divorce papers will be drawn up by the person dealing with your case. The spouse who presents the divorce petition is known as the "Petitioner", whilst the other spouse is known as the "Respondent". The petition gives standard details in relation to the marriage and it will be necessary to provide your marriage certificate. If you cannot provide this, we can arrange to obtain a certified copy, which will satisfy the court.

There is only one ground for divorce, which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, but there are five ways in which this can be proved. These are as follows:

1. Adultery of the Respondent
2 Behaviour of the Respondent
3. Desertion by the Respondent of the Petitioner for at least two years
4. Separation of the parties for at least two years and the Respondent consents to the divorce
5. Separation of the parties for at least five years (no need for Respondent's consent)

You will be advised about which option is most appropriate to you and the divorce petition will be completed accordingly.

2. Divorce petition

The court sends, in the ordinary post, a copy of the divorce petition to the Respondent with a form called the Acknowledgement of Service . This is a simple form, which the Respondent must complete and return to the court within a specified time period. The form simply asks the Respondent to state that s/he has received the papers and whether s/he intends to defend the divorce.

If the Respondent intends to defend the divorce, then the procedure is different and the person dealing with your case will explain it to you.

If the Respondent cannot be traced or refuses to return the Acknowledgement of Service, then there will be a delay whilst steps are taken to trace the Respondent or alternative methods used to prove that papers have been received by her/him.

3. Application for Decree Nisi

Once the Acknowledgement of Service has been returned to the court, then a copy will be sent to us. You will be asked to complete two more forms, which are known as the Application for Decree Nisi and the Statement in Support. The second form is a standard statement, which declares that the contents of your petition are true. These forms are then sent to the court and all the papers examined by a District Judge. Provided everything is in order, the court will then issue a date for the Decree Nisi.

4. Decree Nisi

This is the first divorce decree, saying that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce on the evidence presented to the court. There is no need for you to attend court and the decree will be sent to us. We will then forward it to you. You are not yet divorced until you have completed the final step.

5. Decree Absolute

This is the final divorce decree and you can apply for it six weeks after the date of the Decree Nisi.

Once the Decree Absolute has been granted, you are finally divorced and are free to marry.

If the Respondent co-operates and there are no delays at court, then a straightforward undefended divorce can be processed within approximately six months. However, divorce sometimes takes longer because of delay by the Respondent or backlogs at court. The person dealing with your case will keep you informed at every stage of the divorce and will advise you if delays are anticipated.