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Divorce Timetable


After One Year of Marriage

Either spouse may commence Divorce Proceedings. He or she is known as the Petitioner. The Petitioner will file:

  • A Divorce Petition.
  • Marriage Certificate.
  • Court Fee of £550 or a Fee Exemption Certificate.

Within a Few Days of Sending the Divorce Petition to Court

The Court sends a copy of the Divorce Petition to the other spouse known as the Respondent together with an Acknowledgement of Service. A copy of the Divorce Petition is also sent to anyone named in an Adultery Petition. That person is known as the Co-Respondent. If either the Respondent or the Co-Respondent has instructed solicitors and the Petitioner is aware of it, their details can be included in the Divorce Petition and the documents can be sent to them.

The court will also send a copy to the Petitioner confirming when it was sent to the Respondent,

From the date the documents are received the Respondent has strict time limits to observe

1. Within 7 Days (If the Respondent Lives in the UK)

He / she should send to the Court the Acknowledgement of Service which accompanied the Divorce Petition. The Respondent is required to confirm:

  • Where and when he/she received the Divorce Petition.
  • In which country he/she is domiciled and resides.
  • Whether he/she intends to defend the Divorce Petition.
  • Whether any claim for costs is disputed.
  • Whether orders affecting the children are sought.

2. Within 29 Days of Receipt (Longer if the documents have to be sent to an address abroad)

Whether or not the Respondent has filed an Acknowledgement of Service, the Respondent must, if he or she intends to defend the Divorce Petition, file a Defence in the form of an Answer. The Divorce Petition then becomes defended and the procedure outlined below does not apply. Defended Divorce Proceedings resulting in a fully contested hearing are rare. However, a delay in finalising the divorce is inevitable.

3. Within a Few Days of Receiving the Acknowledgement of Service from the Respondent (and Co-Respondent)

The Court forwards a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service to the Petitioner’s solicitor.

4. If the Respondent is not Defending the Divorce Petition, the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi to be Pronounced

This is known as applying for directions for trial under the special procedure

The Petitioner’s solicitor prepares the Statement of Service for the Petitioner to swear confirming that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. It will also state whether any circumstances (including those relating to the children) have changed since the Divorce Petition was filed. The Petitioner will complete the Statement of Service and it will then be sent to the Court with the request for a date for the first decree of divorce the DECREE NISI to be pronounced.

5. What do I do if Acknowledgements of Service are not returned to the Court?

Proof that the Respondent and any named Co-Respondent have received the Divorce Petition will have to be obtained before the Petitioner can take the next step. This may involve arranging for someone to deliver the Divorce Petition to the Respondent in person and any named Co-Respondent, or, obtaining a Court Order that proof does not need to be given and that the Respondent and Co-Respondent have received the Petition. This is called dispensing with service.

6. On Receipt by the Court of the Application for a date for Pronouncement of the Decree Nisi and the Statement of Service

The District Judge will consider whether or not the reasons for the divorce have been proven, and if he decides that they have he will give a certificate for the DECREE NISI to be pronounced. Both the Petitioner and the Respondent (through their solicitors) are then advised of the date fixed for DECREE NISI. Depending on the Court’s diary, the date is likely to be a few weeks after the application is lodged. Neither party needs to attend court; the evidence is filed in the sworn statement. This procedure is sometimes called a quickie divorce.

The DECREE NISI does not end the marriage but does enable the court to make final orders in matters relating to the finances.

When You Can Apply For Decree Absolute

6 Weeks and I Day After the Date of the Decree Nisi

The Petitioner may apply for the final decree the DECREE ABSOLUTE by sending the Notice of Application to the Court. This step is not automatic. The DECREE ABSOLUTE will be processed and may be available as quickly as the next day.

As explained in divorce procedure there are sometimes advantages in delaying the final decree until all financial issues have been sorted out.

3 months after the Petitioner could first have applied for Decree Absolute

The Respondent may apply for the Decree Absolute if the Petitioner has not already done so, the fee is £50.00.

It is the Decree Absolute which formally ends the marriage, only then are you free to marry again!

How Long Does it Normally Take?

An undefended divorce takes about 3 to 4 months from the filing of the divorce petition to the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi.

Your Will

You may need to change your will as divorce removes any provision for your former spouse or appointment of your former spouse as an executor.

Lynne Bastow Divorce Solicitor

Meet Lynne Bastow

With over 15 years experience, Lynne can provide excellent and valuable advice and has a friendly, positive approach towards all her clients, ensuring you get the best service possible.

Read Lynne's Books

If you need more information on divorce, Lynne has published two informative guides on divorce, which you can purchase from Amazon.

The Little Book of Divorce

The Little Book of Divorce

Buy on Amazon
The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

The Little Book of Divorce Dilemmas

Buy on Amazon
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