Guide to the Divorce Procedure.
If you’ve made the decision to divorce then there are a number of steps you’ll need to follow.
The first thing you will need to remember is the more you and your husband or wife agree about the easier and quicker the process will be. If you and your spouse don’t agree on these issues the divorce can take much longer and be more expensive.
How Divorce Works
To get a divorce, you’ll need to go through a number of steps.
These stages can take about four months if you and your spouse agree on the following:
- Why you want the divorce: There is no general right to a divorce you must prove one of the 'grounds' for divorce.
- how you’ll look after children
- how you’ll split up the assets (Property, money etc)
The Stages of a Divorce
The formal divorce process has four steps.
1. Deciding the reasons for divorce: To divorce, you’ll need to prove to the court the reasons why you want your marriage to end. These are known as ‘facts’ and ‘grounds’ for divorce.
2. File a divorce petition: One of you will need to apply to court for a divorce. You do this by filling in and sending a divorce petition’ to a court or alternatively locate a local solicitor to do this for you.
3. Applying for a ‘decree nisi’: If you’ve sent your divorce petition to court and your spouse has told the court they agree, you can move to the next stage. This is applying for a ‘decree nisi’ – a document that says the court sees no reason why you can’t divorce.
4. Getting a decree absolute: The ‘decree absolute’ is the document that legally ends your marriage.
If you started the divorce, you can apply for a ‘decree absolute’ six weeks after the court issues the decree nisi.
If your spouse started the divorce you can apply for a ‘decree absolute’ after an additional three months. So you would have to wait three months and six days after the decree nisi was issued before you could apply.
Once you have the decree absolute, you are officially divorced.
Things that may slow down your divorce
If the court thinks that your plans for looking after children aren’t satisfactory, it can refuse to grant a divorce. If this happens, you’ll need to work out new plans and start the process again.
If you disagree over how you’ll split money, property and possessions, this won’t necessarily stop the divorce.
If you can’t reach an agreement on money, property and possessions, you may have to get the court to decide. A ‘financial order’ (sometimes known as an ‘ancillary relief order’) is a formal arrangement made in court. It’s a separate process to the divorce and, in many cases, the formal divorce will be finalised before you complete the financial order process.
Since the enactment of the Legal Aid, sentencing & punishment of offenders Act 2012, legal aid for divorce cases will only be available when there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
Check your entitlement to legal aid here: https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid