Divorce Law and Dissolution Procedure Guide

What steps need to be taken to obtain a Divorce or Dissolution?

The correct term for the divorce/dissolution procedure is “an application for a matrimonial order”. To make the divorce/dissolution process easier to understand we have created a flowchart of the different steps that are taken during divorce proceedings, please view our Divorce Flowchart to help you better understand what needs to be done. Below we explain each step in more detail:

  1. The party who wants to initiate the Divorce is know as the Petitioner. They need to file the divorce petition (Form D8) with the Court. In order to fill this out, they will need an official copy of their marriage certificate, plus if there are any children involved, they will need a statement of arrangements for the children.
  2. The other party is known as the Respondent. Once the court receives the divorce petition, it then serves the papers to the Respondent. However, if there are problems serving the papers, the court will ask the Petitioner to deal with this.
  3. Following service of the papers the Respondent can agree to the divorce, oppose the divorce or fail to respond in time. The Petitioner then has to apply for Directions for Trial. Where the respondent agrees to the divorce or fails to respond, then the Petitioner is entitled to apply for Directions for Trial under the "special procedure" as long as the Petitioner can prove service of the Petition.
  4. Where Directions for Trial are requested a Judge considers the papers. If satisfied that a divorce/dissolution is appropriate, then a date is fixed for pronouncement of Decree Nisi. This is not yet the full divorce/dissolution. Where a divorce/dissolution is opposed, the court will give full Directions for Trial leading to a contested court hearing.
  5. Where a contested hearing takes place it is necessary for the Petitioner to prove the Petition. However, the court often takes the view that the hearing itself is proof the marriage/civil partnership is over and as long as a solicitor who knows what they are doing is dealing with the case, it is rare a Decree Absolute is not granted.
  6. Where costs are not agreed, the Court will normally decide who should pay whose costs at the same time as pronouncing Decree Nisi.
  7. Following Decree Nisi, unless there is good reason to allow it sooner, an application for Decree Absolute can be made 6 weeks later. Normally it should be applied for within 12 months, but until the finances are sorted out it may not be sensible to do this. Until Decree Absolute is given the divorce/dissolution is not final.

We provide further guides on how the procedure works as set out below. The guides follow the logical sequence of a divorce/dissolution petition. However, if you cannot find what you are looking for please contact us and we can answer your specific questions and advise you on the best course of action.