Divorce Process

Most divorces are undefended.

The steps are usually:

  • The person requesting a divorce completes the divorce papers;
  • The court sends the divorce papers to the other person, along with an acknowledgment form for them to complete;
  • To then:
    • apply for the Decree Nisi (the interim divorce order); and
    • at least six weeks and one day later, apply for the Decree Absolute (the final divorce order).

There is often no need for anyone to attend court for the divorce. It usually takes about four to six months to complete. However, the overall timescale can be longer where there are other issues, for example, to resolve the matrimonial finances and/or anything to do with the children.

What we can do to help

1. The preparation of the divorce papers.

We will be able to help you prepare the divorce papers.

You have to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and there are five ways of showing this to the Court:

  • Adultery
  • Behaviour
  • Desertion for more than two years
  • Separation for two years or more with the other persons consent
  • Five years separation without the other persons consent.

2. Sending the divorce papers to Court.

The person starting the divorce is called the Petitioner and the person receiving the divorce papers is called the Respondent. Once the divorce papers have been filed at Court, the Court office will issue them and send them to the Respondent. The Respondent should then complete and return the Acknowledgement of Service form to the Court.

3. The Decree Nisi.

Once the Petitioner has received the Acknowledgement of Service form, the divorce solicitor can help by making the application for Decree Nisi, which is the Interim Divorce Order. On an undefended divorce, the family law Judge will privately look at the papers to find whether or not the Petitioner is entitled to a Decree of divorce. The Judge will also consider any claim for the divorce costs.

4. Decree Absolute.

Once the Court has pronounced the Decree Nisi, the Petitioner must wait six weeks and one day before applying for the Decree Absolute, which is the Final Divorce Order. This formally dissolves the marriage and you are then divorced

Our divorce flow chart provides some useful information about the process.

We can advise on all aspects of divorce law and help you through these steps. Extra care must always be taken where the case has an international element because there could be more than one country where the divorce could start. The financial outcomes in each country could be starkly different and specialist advice from an expert family lawyer must be taken in each country. For further guidance, please click here.

James Maguire is a divorce solicitor and also a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and all our solicitors are Resolution specialist accredited.