The UK Divorce Process

The following explains each step of the divorce process. It is assumed that couples are agreed on all aspects of the divorce and that the divorce is uncontested.
  1. The divorce process starts with the first document that will be submitted to the court called a petition. The petitioner is either spouse who files for this divorce document.
  2. This document is submitted to court and the court issues a copy to the respondent, the other spouse.
    In the petition, the reason for filing a divorce is stated. The acceptable basis for divorce can fall under either of these five:

    1) the petitioner’s spouse has not acted in the manner expected of him/her, behaving unreasonably,

    2) the respondent has committed adultery,

    3) either party has been deserted for two years or more,

    4) the couple has been separated for 2 years and have mutually agreed to file for a divorce, and

    5) the couple has been separated for 5 years. With the filing of the petition, the Marriage Certificate and the Statement of Arrangements (living and schooling arrangement for the children) are submitted. Other documents such as reconciliation certificate and public funding certificate will be requested if applicable. A court fee is also paid.
  3. Once the petition has been received and processed by the court, a copy is sent to the respondent. The respondent then signs an acknowledgement receipt to signify agreement to a divorce, called Form of Acknowledgement of Service. If the respondent does not agree with the divorce and any arrangements included in it, he or she has need not sign this receipt. A copy of this acknowledgement will then be sent to the petitioner.
  4. Upon receiving a copy of the acknowledgement of the respondent, the petitioner then files another document. This document is a Request for Directions for Trial. When filing this form an affidavit must be attached to it. The petitioner will also request for a Decree Nisi. The Decree Nisi is a provisional order for a divorce once the court sees fit to grant it. The court will then set a date, which is usually 6 weeks after the issuance of the Decree Nisi, when the petitioner can file for a Decree Absolute.
  5. The Decree Absolute is the final order in the dissolution of a marriage and that the divorce is now finished.
  6. The whole process from filing the petition until the Decree Absolute is issued takes between 12 and 14 weeks.