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The Chestnuts, 4 Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1DA
Tel: 01371 873277, Fax: 01371 859232

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Grounds for Divorce

The person who starts the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner and their spouse is called the Respondent. The Petition will need to show to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this is done by proving one of the following five ‘facts’. These are:-

  1. Adultery - That the Respondent has committed adultery and the Petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent.
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour - That the Respondent has behaved in such a way that the Petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent.
  3. Desertion - That the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition.
  4. Two Years Separation and Consent - That the parties of the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition and the Respondent consents to a Decree being granted.
  5. Five Years Separation - That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years preceding the presentation of the Petition.

The Divorce Procedure

In most cases it will be appropriate to write an initial letter to your spouse explaining that divorce proceedings are going to be started. Certainly, as members of Resolution we consider this to be a more non-confrontational step to take; however, we will, of course, discuss this with you. The divorce procedure is usually straightforward and the procedure for a simple undefended divorce is as follows:-

  1. The Petitioner’s Solicitors will draft the Divorce Petition. The Divorce Petition is the form which sets out some standard information about the parties, the children and the marriage, in addition to setting out the ‘fact’ that the Petitioner intends to rely on to establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  2. The Court will not usually become involved with the arrangements for the children unless the parents are unable to agree suitable arrangements themselves, or unless the Court is concerned for the welfare of the children.
  3. The Divorce Petition is lodged at Court with the original Marriage Certificate and the Court fee of £550.00. Some people on low incomes or certain State benefits are exempt from the Court fee.
  4. When the Court receives the Court Petition it will serve a copy on your spouse, or any Solicitor acting for your spouse. The Court also sends a Notice of Issue to confirm the date that the proceedings were commenced.
  5. Your spouse will then have a period of fourteen days to respond to the Divorce Petition and state whether they agree to the divorce. Your spouse will have to complete an Acknowledgement of Service form and return it to the Court.
  6. When we have received the Acknowledgement of Service form from your spouse (or directly from the Court) the next step is for the Petitioner to deal with the application for Decree Nisi. This will involve completing a simple application form together with a Statement in Support of your application.
  7. A District Judge with then consider the divorce papers and provided that everything is in order, the Court will send each party a Notice stating when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced.

    It is possible to claim your divorce costs from your spouse (i.e. the costs that you have to pay your Solicitor). If you wish to do this, it must be requested in the Divorce Petition and the Statement in Support of your Divorce Petition. If the Court agrees to the request, it will send a Notice confirming this, together with a Notice of Decree Nisi.
  8. The Decree Nisi will be pronounced in Court on the date advised by the Court. Neither party needs to attend the Court as the District Judge will grant the Decree from paperwork alone. The Petitioner will then have to wait for a period of six weeks and one day before applying for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute.
  9. The Application for Decree Nisi to be made Absolute is sent to the Court. The Court will usually deal with the Application within a few days. However, in some cases we advise the Petitioner to delay applying for the Decree Absolute until a financial agreement has been made.
  10. When the Decree Absolute is pronounced, this is the document that formally ends the marriage and confirms that you are divorced.