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The Procedure

The divorce procedure


Stages of a Divorce

For most people the divorce process is very straightforward. Usually no attendance is required at Court by you, your spouse or by your solicitor. The entire divorce process takes approximately four to six months from start to finish, although in many divorces the process can take nearer to 12 months, this being the time that it often takes to resolve the financial aspects of your divorce.

Nearly all of the steps in the divorce are dealt with by the person who starts the divorce process (the Petitioner). The other person (the Respondent) takes very few steps. 

The four stages of the divorce process are as follows:

Stage 1 | Divorce Petition

The divorce petition is sent to Court to start the Court process. The original marriage certificate also needs to be sent to Court along with the court fee Where there are children, a document called the Statement of Arrangements for Children must also be completed by the Petitioner and sent to Court. 

Stage 2 | Acknowledgement of Service

The Respondent will be sent your Divorce petition (plus the Statement of Arrangements for Children where appropriate) and other documents by the Ccourt. The Respondent spouse then needs to complete a short form called the Acknowledgement of Service in which they confirm that they have received the Divorce petition, Statement of Arrangements, etc. The Respondent is also asked to state whether he/she wishes to defend the divorce, object to paying any legal costs, etc. (A sensible lawyer is always likely to advise against defending a divorce procedure, as the end result is likely to be a divorce in any event. Also, to defend proceedings can prove to be very expensive and the Court has wide ranging powers to make costs orders against Respondents who unreasonably defend a divorce process)

Stage 3 | Decree Nisi

Once the Respondent spouse has completed the Acknowledgement of Service form and returned it to Court, the Court will send a sealed copy to the Petitioner who can then apply for Decree Nisi of Divorce. To do this the Petitioner has to sign a statement of truth confirming the contents of the Divorce petition (and Statement of Arrangements) are true. If any amendments or updates need to be made then this is dealt with within the statement of truth. This statement then accompanies the application to the Court for the Decree Nisi. The Decree Nisi is pronounced in open court, although it is rarely necessary for either party (or solicitors) to attend this hearing. 

Stage 4 | Decree Absolute

The Decree Absolute is the final decree of divorce which ends the marriage. Parties are free to remarry after the Decree Absolute (but beware the remarriage trap (link to follow) It can be applied for by the Petitioner, a minimum of six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of Decree Nisi. The application is usually dealt with very quickly, most often within one week of being submitted to the Court. However, if the parties have not agreed the financial aspects of the divorce by this stage, the application for Decree Absolute may be delayed until that financial settlement has been reached and approved by the Court. It is open to the Respondent to apply for the Decree Absolute 3 months after the date when the Petitioner could first have applied (i.e. 6 weeks + 3 months after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi). Such an application will require a physical attendance at Court.

If you need help with any aspect of your divorce process then why not contact one of Cardiff’s most experienced family law practices?

We will be able to offer you tailored advice at every stage of your divorce. We also offer collaborative legal services as well as family mediation services. 


Divorce     Practical Tips     Common Divorce Misconceptions