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Divorce Procedure – Respondent

Undefended Divorce Procedure – if your spouse has started divorce proceedings (i.e. you are the Respondent)

Step 1 – Initial appointment

We will complete with you the acknowledgment of service form you have been sent from the Court, together with your spouse’s divorce petition and statement of arrangements for children (if applicable).

Step 2 – Acknowledging the divorce petition

We will send your completed acknowledgment of service form to the Court.

The Court will send a sealed copy of this to your spouse so that they can apply for Decree Nisi.

Step 3 – Entitlement to a Decree of Divorce

The Court staff put your spouse’s divorce 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.  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.

We will send you the notice of when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced and the certificate of the Judge which usually confirms the Court does not need to make any orders about the children.

Step 4 – 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 your spouse has asked the Court to order that you pay their costs and you are 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 5 – Application for Decree Absolute

Your spouse will have to wait six weeks and one day from the date of pronouncement of Decree Nisi to apply for Decree Absolute.  However, they are unlikely to apply for Decree Absolute until any outstanding matrimonial financial issues have been resolved.

If your spouse does not, you can apply for Decree Absolute yourself once three months have passed since the earliest date your spouse could have applied.

Step 6 – Decree Absolute

The Court takes one to two weeks to process the 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 when your spouse starts divorce proceedings to applying for 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.