About Divorce

Last year over 100,000 marriages ended in divorce in England and Wales. Many of these were uncontested. However, few of these people involved had the benefit of this revolutionary offer of services by a fully qualified solicitor at such a competitive cost.

Divorce is dealt with in relative isolation by the Court system. Although there are related issues to consider the divorce will proceed largely uninterrupted by these other considerations.

Therefore an uncontested divorce is a real prospect for the majority of people considering this resolution to their relationship difficulties.

Matters relating to any dependent children and marriage finances are dealt with separately by the Court. There are additional criteria to apply for these to be considered and resolved by the Court.

The Divorce Process Summarised Read more

The majority of divorce Petitions in England and Wales proceed on an uncontested basis. The following process is explained as if your divorce were uncontested. A divorce that is defended will follow a different route through the Court.

The primary Statute that governs divorce in the jurisdiction of England and Wales is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. There are other statutes and regulations that tune the way the procedure is conducted. There is also a primary guide to good practice originally produced by the Law Society called the Family Law Protocol. There are many Practice Guides and Practice Directions that should be followed for the good management of a divorce case. These practices include usage before and after proceedings are issued at Court.

At LowCostDivorceSolicitor we follow the Family Law Protocol and all good practice guides and directions. This allows the best opportunity to make the process as quick and straightforward as possible. This is also particularly important when there are any issues with respect to consideration of applications for inter-party costs orders.

However, it is important to note that the speed and ease of process depends on the ability of both parties to co-operate. Use of our low fixed cost service relies on this as well.

Following the issue of a divorce Petition the divorce process becomes complete at the Court's grant of the Decree Absolute. The Court will only grant a Decree Absolute if it can be shown that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The following is a brief summary of the main steps in applying for a divorce. This summary is not intended to be a definitive guide as to all possible routes of a divorce from Petition to Decree Absolute. It should be noted that these are the main steps of an uncontested divorce.

The time it takes to complete these steps varies. Theoretically a divorce can be completed in about 4 months. But the procedure is rarely completed in less than 5 months. Also, it can often be important to resolve the matrimonial finances before applying for the Decree Absolute. Resolving finances can often be the governing factor when considering the length of time of the divorce proceedings. Again it is important to customise a number of matters in specific circumstances. It is important to ensure that the financial arrangements after the divorce are fair and reasonable. This is another reason to support the engagement of a suitably qualified solicitor in divorce proceedings.

Should divorce be considered appropriate the Main Steps of the Divorce Procedure are listed as follows:-

1. Pre-Issue Activity Read more

We will firstly ask you to complete our questionnaire and provide us with your marriage certificate. We will use this to inform your spouse and prepare the Court documentation. This is a very important stage of the divorce process. Rarely is it considered appropriate not to inform the Respondent of an intention to issue proceedings. This is especially so with an uncontested divorce. However, if this is something that requires consideration then this can be discussed.

As well as the Petition there are other forms for us to complete. The Court no longer asks about the children or arrangements for children if there are any children of the marriage to include in the Petition. If you cannot agree arrangements for the children you can make an application under the Children Act 1989. This can be looked at for you but not within the fexed fee arrangement here. The Court will require an issue fee of £550 and the marriage certificate. The Petitioner can ask to be assessed for a Court fee remission for exemption. A means test form can be completed for this if considered appropriate. Evidence of income will be required by the Court should you apply for a Court fee remission. As to the marriage certificate a replacement certified copy can be sent. This is not expensive and often costs as little as £9.25 to obtain from the Registry. We charge you £21.00 in addition to this if we obtain this for you. A Certificate of Reconciliation form is also required by the Court where a Petitioner is represented by a solicitor.

A note of caution here for people considering the use of another divorce service is that if your chosen divorce service provider does not complete a Certificate of Reconciliation and you sign your own divorce petition which are then sent to the Court then you are essentially conducting your own divorce. In this situation you will be ultimately responsible for all contact with the Court and your spouse or his or her solicitor. This applies whether or not your service provider promises to do these tasks on your behalf or not.

2. Issue and Service of the Petition Read more

When considering the documentation the Court will refer to the person who is issuing the Petition as the Petitioner. The other party is automatically referred to as the Respondent to the proceedings. Providing the Court is satisfied with the preparation of the documents received the proceedings will be issued.

Following issue the papers are then ready for service on the Respondent. The Court will normally accept responsibility for postal service. Failure of postal service will mean that your divorce is not uncontested and will result in additional costs. However, the Petition can be served personally and a further request that duplicate documents be returned following issue can be made. These issues can be discussed if appropriate.

3. Acknowledging Service Read more

When the Respondent receives the Petition a Respondent's pack is included. The main document here is the Acknowledgement of Service. The Respondent will be asked to respond to a number of questions, in particular, whether any defence will be made to the Petition. An uncontested divorce will require a 'no' in the response. The Respondent will be asked to return certain documents to the Court within 7 days. Failure to return the Acknowledgement within 7 days will mean that your divorce is not uncontested and will result in additional costs.

Upon receipt by the Court the appropriate forms will be sent to the Petitioner or the Petitioner's solicitor. If the Respondent does not co-operate then further action will be required by the Petitioner, or the Petitioner's solicitor.

4. Application for Directions for Trial Read more

Following receipt from the Court by the Petitioner, or the Petitioner's solicitor, of an 'Acknowledgement of Service', and this confirms that there is to be no defence to the Petition, the next step can be considered. Should the Respondent not co-operate then other options can be considered. No co-operation steps can be considered as appropriate. Costs for failed co-operation will be incurred outside the uncontested service.

The Application for Directions for Trial is made by the Petitioner or the Petitioner's solicitor. The required document is sent to the Court along with a signed statement in support. The statement in its simplest format confirms that the contents of the Petition are true. This statement must be signed by the Petitioner. For the procedure to be uncontested the application must entered in the Special Procedure List on first application.

5. Grant of Decree Nisi Read more

Upon receipt of the papers the Court staff will place these in a file and pass to a Judge. The Judge will look at the Petition, statement in support and evidence supplied and decide whether a divorce can be granted. The Judge will no longer consider the arrangements for the children, if appropriate.

If the Judge says that the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce then the Court will place the matter in a list. This list will include all the cases for the Judge to pronounce a Decree Nisi on. A date and time will be set for this to be done. The Court will notify the Petitioner and the Respondent of this, or their respective solicitors. The Decree Nisi is the first of 2 decrees required before a person is finally divorced. The Decree Nisi confirms that the Court approves the grant of a divorce. It is important to be aware that the Decree Nisi does not end the marriage.

It is not usually necessary for either of the parties to attend this hearing. However, where there are outstanding issues on the divorce costs then it may be appropriate to attend the Court at the hearing of the Decree Nisi.

If the Judge says that the Petitioner is not entitled to a divorce then a refusal will be confirmed. This is only likely to occur should the divorce become contested. However this can occur when there is a flaw in the evidence provided by the Petitioner. The Court will confirm what is required to be done to allow a pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. An appointment for the parties and their solicitors to attend Court may be required. If so, notice will be provided by the Court. All work relating to rectification of the process will result in additional costs outside the uncontested service.

6. Decree Absolute Read more

Following the grant of the Decree Nisi there is a bar on applying for the Decree Absolute for a period of six weeks and one day. After this the Petitioner has an exclusive period of three months to ask for the Decree Absolute. Once granted, the Decree Absolute ends the marriage and replaces the marriage certificate. However, before applying for the Decree Absolute it is important to consider finalising the financial arrangements of the marriage. Important rights can be lost upon the pronouncement of the Decree Absolute. Therefore to protect financial entitlement it is likely to benefit the dependant Petitioner to delay requesting the Court to grant the Decree Absolute until after the Ancillary Relief arrangements have been properly resolved. This can be discussed more fully following acceptance of a client's instructions and upon consideration of individual personal circumstances.

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