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Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution: The Process
Obtaining a divorce or civil partnership dissolution might seem like a daunting process, but it need not be so complicated with the right legal team in your corner. At JMW, we are here to provide the guidance you need to make sure the process is as simple and straightforward as possible.
We have therefore created the below interactive infographic to show the various stages in a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. Click on the relevant icons on each step for more essential information before proceeding to the next phase.
It is important to remember, however, that divorce, dissolution and separation can be very complicated, so you should always seek expert legal advice when going through such a process. To speak to a member of our highly experienced team at JMW, call us today on 0800 652 5577 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you. Click here for more information about our services.
Divorce and Civil Partnership Dissolution
If you have reached the decision that your marriage or civil partnership is over and you want to get divorced/dissolve your civil partnership...
...what are the next steps?
Decision to divorce1
Who will divorce who, and why?
Unless there are technical or other important reasons why this is not appropriate*, try to agree with your spouse or civil partner who will divorce who and on what basis
For example, if there is a potential dispute as to which country’s courts should deal with the divorce or dissolution, you must take legal advice as a matter of urgency. This could be relevant if you live or have lived outside of England and Wales or if either one or both of you is not a British citizen. The financial implications of getting divorced in a particular country can be vast and urgent action may be needed
In some cases, the decision as to ‘who divorces who’ can have a big effect on entitlement to pension provision in the event either of you were to die before a financial settlement had been finalised. If you think this might apply to you, you should consult a solicitor
* click all red text to see if it applies to you. Click again to close
The contents of the petition2
Agree on the 'Statement of case' wording
Unless there are technical or other important reasons why this is not appropriate, try to agree with your spouse or civil partner the wording of the ‘Statement of case’ section of the petition
Completing the petition3
Send the petition to the appropriate court
Complete the petition and send to the appropriate court in duplicate with your original marriage or civil partnership certificate (or an official copy issued by the register office), and the correct fee
If your marriage or civil partnership took place abroad, you will need to provide an officially recognised translation of the certificate if it is not in English
A reduction of the court fee of up to 100% is available, subject to your financial circumstances
The documents are reviewed by court staff
Court staff will review the paperwork and return it to you if there are errors
Service of the petition5
Sending the petition to your partner
If there are no immediate issues with the documentation, court staff will send a copy to your spouse or civil partner together with an acknowledgment of service and explain what they need to do next
If your spouse or civil partner is likely to contest the divorce or dissolution and/or attempt to deny having received the paperwork, you may need to make alternative arrangements for service
Returning the acknowledgment of service
Once your spouse or civil partner has returned the acknowledgment of service to the court, the court will notify you of this and send you a copy
Application for decree nisi or conditional order7
Completing the 'Statement in support of divorce/dissolution'
Provided your spouse or civil partner has not objected to any aspect of the petition, use the copy of the acknowledgment of service to apply for a decree nisi (or a conditional order in the case of civil partnerships). You will need to complete a ‘Statement in support of divorce/dissolution’ and an ‘Application for decree nisi/conditional order’
If your spouse or civil partner is contesting the proceedings, then you will almost certainly need to attend a court hearing. Proceedings of this type are extremely unusual and can be complex and expensive
Setting a date for decree nisi or conditional order8
The court confirms no objection to the divorce or dissolution
Neither of you needs to attend court for this step unless there is an ongoing dispute as to how the costs of the proceedings should be shared between you
Decree nisi or conditional order9
The court will read out the decree nisi or conditional order
The decree nisi or conditional order will be read out in court. This does not bring your marriage or civil partnership to an end and you are not yet ‘divorced’. The court has simply confirmed that it has no objection to you getting divorced. You will both receive a stamped copy of the decree nisi or conditional order.
After the reading out of the decree nisi or conditional order, the court can approve your financial settlement, although it will not be binding and enforceable until your decree absolute or final order (civil partnerships) has been granted
Applying for the decree absolute or final order10
The petitioner sends the application to the court
Six weeks and one day after the date of the decree nisi or conditional order, the person who started the proceedings (the petitioner) can apply for a decree absolute or final order (civil partnerships). The petitioner will need to complete a ‘Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute or conditional order to be made final’ and send it to the court
If the petitioner refuses to apply for the decree absolute or final order without good reason, the respondent can ask the court to grant the decree absolute or final order instead
In many cases, the petitioner will delay applying for the decree absolute or final order until a financial settlement has been agreed and approved by the court. There are various legal and technical reasons for this
Decree absolute or final order 11
Officially dissolving the marriage or civil partnership
Within a few weeks of the application being made, the court will send you both your decree absolute or final order. The date shown on the document is the date upon which your marriage or civil partnership was officially dissolved. From this date onwards you are ‘divorced’ and are free to marry or form a civil partnership
Divorce and civil partnership dissolution both affect inheritance under a will or the intestacy rules. You are strongly advised to consider making or revising your will if you are going through a divorce or dissolution
If you are considering marrying or entering into a civil partnership after divorce or dissolution, but you do not have an approved court order dealing with the financial aspects of your previous marriage or civil partnership, you should take legal advice before taking any further steps
Divorce can be very complicated and no two divorces are the same, so it is important legal advice is always sought when going through this process