Undefended Divorce Procedure – if you are starting divorce proceedings (i.e. you are the Petitioner)
Step 1 – Initial appointment
You will have given us your marriage certificate and we will have discussed your options with you. We cannot draft your divorce petition or take any other steps until you have provided your marriage certificate.
Step 2 – Drafting the divorce petition
We will draft your divorce petition on the basis of the information you have given to us. We send this to you for your approval, and request that you provide us with the Court fee so that we can send this to the Court.
Alternatively, if you wish to apply for an exemption from the Court fee, we will send you the necessary application form. This can be a complex form to complete and requires documentary evidence of your income and outgoings. We will also send you your marriage certificate, divorce petition and statement of arrangements for children (if applicable) so that you can send this to the Court yourself once you have completed the exemption form.
Step 3 – Issuing the divorce petition
The Court staff process the documentation and issue a case number and then send to your spouse a copy of the Petition, Statement of Arrangements for Children (if applicable), Notice of Proceedings and an Acknowledgement of Service Form for them to complete.
Step 4 – Acknowledging the divorce petition
Your spouse completes the Acknowledgement of Service Form and returns it to the Court.
If they do not complete and return this form, we will instruct a process server to personally serve your spouse. The process server will charge a fee (which is not included in our fixed fee) depending on where your spouse is served and how long it takes for them to do this.
If your spouse cannot be served we will tell you what we can do to overcome this problem and continue your divorce.
Step 5 – Application for Decree Nisi and Statement in Support of the Petition
The Court sends us a sealed copy of the Acknowledgement of Service form signed by your spouse or the process server will provide a statement to confirm your spouse has been personally served.
We will prepare a statement in support of the petition requesting a divorce and will exhibit either the acknowledgement of service or the statement of the process server to confirm your spouse has received your petition. We will send this to you for your signature, and once you return this to us we will send it to the Court along with your application for Decree Nisi.
Step 6 – Entitlement to a Decree of Divorce
The Court staff put the Petition, application for Decree Nisi and statement in support of the petition before the District Judge who reads through the documents and if satisfied that the documents are in order and the contents of the petition are proved will sign a certificate authorising the divorce and set a date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, details of which we will send to you. The Judge will also consider the contents of the statement of arrangements for children (if applicable) and will usually certify that the Court does not need to make any orders about the children.
Step 7 – Pronouncement of Decree Nisi
The pronouncement of Decree Nisi will take place approximately two weeks later. There is no need for you to attend unless you have asked the Court to order that your spouse pays your costs and your spouse is disputing this. If so, you will need to write to the Court yourself, giving no less than two clear days notice that you intend to attend the Hearing to put forward your arguments on the issue of costs. Your spouse may attend that Hearing. Please note that our fixed fee does not include representing you on this point.
Step 8 – Application for Decree Absolute
We have to wait six weeks and one day from the date of pronouncement of Decree Nisi to apply for Decree Absolute. However, we will not apply for Decree Absolute until any outstanding matrimonial financial issues have been resolved.
Step 9 – Decree Absolute
The Court takes one to two weeks to process your application for Decree Absolute. We will send you your original Decree Absolute once we receive this from the Court. This is a very important document because it shows that you are no longer married and replaces your marriage certificate.
An undefended divorce generally takes five to seven months from our initial appointment to sending you the Decree Absolute. The timescale is dependent on how quickly your spouse and the Court office deal with any paperwork sent to them and this is outside our control.