If you’ve decided that divorce is the right option for you, it pays to know everything about the process before you make a start. With that in mind, we have created a guide to the divorce process to get you up to speed.
The Divorce Process in England
The divorce process is split into in four stages:
- Applying for a divorce by filing a divorce petition at court
- Serving the divorce petition on your ex
- The court granting a decree nisi
- Obtaining decree absolute.
Applying For Divorce
To apply for a divorce you have to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The fact that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is proved by relying on one of five facts, which are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years’ separation with consent
- Five years’ separation (no consent required)
Once the divorce petition is completed, it is filed at court. There is a court fee of £410 for filing the petition.
The person who files the petition is referred to as the Petitioner, and the person who receives the petition is referred to as the Respondent.
Serving The Divorce Petition
When the divorce petition has been received by the court, they will send a copy to you, together with a form called an Acknowledgement of Service.
Your ex must then complete, sign and return the Acknowledgement of Service to court. The court will send a copy of the completed Acknowledgement of Service to you. Once this has been done, you can apply for Decree Nisi.
What Is A Decree Nisi?
A decree nisi is an order issued by the court which states the date that your marriage will end unless either you or your ex can show why the divorce should not be granted.
How To Apply For A Decree Nisi
To get a decree nisi, you first need to fill in an application. This is split into two different forms.
The first is an application for a decree/conditional order or (judicial) decree/order. This is also known as Form D84.
The second form is a statement in support. The type of statement you need to fill in will depend on the fact you relied on in your divorce petition.
The statement in support should confirm that what you have said in your divorce petition is true. You will also need to include your ex’s Acknowledgment of Service with your application and confirm that the signature on it is theirs.
What Is A Decree Absolute?
The decree absolute is the last part of the divorce procedure and this legally ends the marriage. You and your ex are then divorced and are free to remarry.
The Petitioner can apply for decree absolute six weeks and a day after the decree nisi has been granted. However, the Respondent cannot apply until three months after that six-week period.
Once a decree absolute is granted, this officially ends your marriage. The reason for the six-week wait after the decree nisi is granted is to give you and your partner a chance to discuss finances and any other issues that need to be resolved before the marriage ends. If you don’t apply for a decree absolute within 12 months of getting a decree nisi, you have to explain the reason for the delay to the court.
How To Get A Decree Absolute
To apply for a decree absolute, you need to fill in the notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute form.
If your ex started the divorce but hasn’t applied for a decree absolute, you can still apply. You just have to wait an additional three months on top of the standard six-week delay and fill in an application form explaining why you, and not your ex, are applying for decree absolute.
There is a £155 fee for this and you may need to go to a court hearing with your ex.
The court will need to check the following before they grant your application:
- That the legal time limits have been met
- That there is no reason that the divorce shouldn’t be granted
What Happens Next?
The court will send a copy of the decree absolute to both parties. You are then divorced. It’s important to keep your decree absolute safe in case you plan to remarry at a later date or need to prove your marital status.
What To Do Once Decree Absolute Is Granted
Once decree absolute is granted there are a whole range of important tasks to carry out. With that in mind we have created a checklist to get you started.
- If you have children with your ex, make sure that you inform their school that the divorce has been finalised. That way they can monitor your children’s behaviour and give extra support if needed.
- Update your will. If you still wish to include your ex, you will need to update the reference to read “former spouse”. It’s worth noting that if you remarry any will made before remarriage will be classed as invalid.
- Apply for a new passport with your updated personal details.
- Inform your mortgage lender or landlord of any updated details or developments.
- Close any joint bank accounts with your former partner.
- Update your personal details on any remaining bank accounts and credit cards. Some may allow you to do this over the phone, while others will require a face-to-face meeting and supporting documentation like the decree absolute or a utility bill.
- Update your driver’s licence. Failing to do so could result in a fine.
- Amend your insurance policies.
- Notify HM Revenue & Customs of your updated status and contact details, if applicable.
- Contact your telephone and utilities providers with your new details.