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What is the divorce process?

Understanding the divorce process from start to finish, can help to alleviate any anxiety and concerns you have about the divorce process itself and enable you to begin to plan for what lies ahead. It’s a well-known fact that getting a divorce can be one of the most stressful life events.

In this insight we look at the divorce process in England and Wales, and identify the various milestones of the this process.


The start of the divorce process: the divorce petition 

In order to get a divorce, it is necessary to complete a divorce petition. This paperwork must then be filed with the family court, together with a copy of your marriage certificate. Once the petition is filed, the divorce proceedings have officially begun. 

The person who files the divorce petition is known as the petitioner. The other party is known as the respondent.

Your solicitor may recommend that a draft copy of the divorce petition is sent to the respondent before submitting it to the court. Agreeing what is in the divorce petition beforehand may help to avoid any unnecessary delays further down the line. 

However, in some instances, such as if there is an international element to your divorce, your solicitor may recommend that you do not inform your spouse that you intend to file for divorce. This is due to the fact that who files for divorce first (and in what country), could make a difference to how your divorce (and financial settlement) is handled.

divorce process


The decree nisi 

Once the respondent has been served with the petition, the decree nisi can then be applied for. 

The decree nisi is a document in the divorce process which confirms that you are able to end your marriage through a divorce. It will be pronounced in court once the grounds of the petition are accepted. 

If your spouse contests the decree nisi, it will be necessary to go to court, where a judge will listen to your argument and decide whether or not the decree nisi should be granted.


The divorce process and the financial settlement 

After the decree nisi is granted, the court is then able to make an order with regards to your financial settlement. 

Although not part of the divorce process itself, negotiations to reach a financial settlement will often run alongside the divorce process.


The final stage of the divorce process: the decree absolute 

It is possible to apply for the decree absolute at least 6 weeks and 1 day after the decree nisi is pronounced. In reality, the timescale is often much longer than this, especially if there are complex international assets and investments involved in the negotiations for the financial settlement.


How long does the divorce process take? 

The length of the divorce process will depend on a number of factors. If the finances are relatively simple and an agreement about the financial settlement is reached quite early on, the whole process can be completed in around 4 to 6 months. However, sometimes, it can take significantly longer than this. A solicitor should be able to give you a better idea of what you could expect in your circumstances.


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to the divorce process, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on the divorce process

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

23rd October 2019

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