Special Procedure - Petitions for Divorce or Dissolution

What is "Special Procedure"?

Once the petition for divorce or dissolution has been issued, served and the Respondent has had the opportunity to reply, it is necessary to apply for directions for trial. Where the petition is not defended, this is by a procedure known as the "special procedure". It is a paper-based, accelerated procedure for undefended petitions for divorce or dissolution.

What is the Special Procedure process?

The Petitioner files a request for directions for trial under the special procedure, with an affidavit in support. The papers are then referred to a judge to certify whether the requirements have been complied with.

The judge goes through the papers and makes sure that:

If they are satisfied, they will enter it into the special procedure list and fix a date for pronouncement of decree nisi/conditional order. There is no need to attend the hearing unless there are unresolved costs issues or the Court otherwise directs.

If the judge is not satisfied the paperwork is in order, they can:

  • Refuse to grant directions
  • Order the case shall not proceed in the special procedure list
  • Direct a hearing where you have to attend
  • Direct further steps or evidence to be dealt with first.

Usual problems are incorrectly completed petitions, weak unreasonable behaviour allegations in the petition, or incorrectly completed affidavits.

Getting the paperwork right in the first place is simple if you know what you are doing. Sorting it out at a later date is not quite so easy, that’s why it’s always a good idea to speak to a solicitor first.

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