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Divorce Process

The initial stages of a divorce are often confusing and stressful, which is why we think it’s important to understand the whole divorce process from the very beginning, and to know what to expect further down the line.

The process normally has four steps. However, it is important to remember that a divorce decree does not deal with financial matters, which requires a separate court order.

A simple divorce can be quite straight forward and doesn’t usually require an attendance of Court. It typically takes six to eight months, however, when finances are in dispute, the process often takes much closer to a year.

The person who decides to apply for divorce (the petitioner) is responsible for moving the process forward. Their partner (the respondent) will be involved in very little, unless they choose to contest the divorce. For undefended divorces the process is:

Step 1: The Divorce Petition

Either spouse can petition the Court for a divorce after a minimum of 12 months and 1 day of marriage, based on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  Divorce can only be filed based on one of the five grounds for divorce.

Click here to read more about the grounds for divorce. 

Step 2: Acknowledgement of Service

If you have petitioned for divorce, your spouse will be sent the divorce petition by the Court along with any other documents. They will need to fill in the Acknowledgement of Service form, to confirm that they have received the documents.

Step 3: Decree Nisi

Once the Acknowledgement of Service has been returned to the Court, you can apply for the Decree Nisi. Nisi comes from Latin for unless; this part of the divorce process relies on all conditions being met before the divorce can be made ‘absolute’. Most often, the conditions are that no contest is made from either party.

You will need to sign a short statement of truth confirming the contents of your statement which will be sent along with your application for Decree Nisi to the Court. The Decree Nisi will then be pronounced in open Court but it is not necessary for you or your solicitor to attend the hearing.

If the divorce is contested by a spouse, a Court hearing is required to decide whether the Decree Nisi can be granted.

Step 4: Decree Absolute

When your marriage ends you will be issued with the final decree of divorce called the Decree Absolute. You can only apply for the Decree Absolute at least six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is pronounced. However, you must bear in mind that in some cases a Decree Absolute can only be applied for after any financial issues are settled, which is why some divorces can be delayed. Once this has been granted, the divorce process is final, or ‘absolute’.

Each divorce case can vary, as individual circumstances must be considered. Seeking expert legal advice early can save you time and money in the long run, and can help to resolve financial issues promptly and fairly.

If you want expert advice on divorce, or are looking for a friendly and professional solicitor to assist you throughout the divorce process, call 0800 298 9690 to speak to one of our solicitors. Alternatively, use the online contact form and we’ll call you back. 


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