The steps towards divorce in different jurisdictions differ and LawFuel has asked UK divorce lawyers Major Family Law at to explain the key steps to take with divorce law in the United Kingdom
Whatever the reasons for divorce: infidelity, getting married too early or gradually drifting apart, it’s important to be aware of the process that lies ahead.
The average divorce rate in the UK in 2021 was 42 per cent a slight decrease from 2019 but still a large number. In the first quarter of 2022 there were over 30,000 divorce petitions filed in the UK.
Divorce statistics for the divorce rate in England and Wales in the fifty years up until 2019 showed that exactly one-third of all marriages resulted in divorce.
We’ve summed it up in five simple steps –
- The Petition
Firstly, in order to initiate a divorce, spouses will need to have been married or in a civil partnership for one year.
The first step then begins with a Petition from the person applying (the Petitioner) which is filed at the Family Courts.
As of April 2022, in England and Wales, divorces are proceeded with based on ‘no fault’, meaning there is now no need to cite blame for the breakdown of a marriage.
At this stage, it’s worth considering which country to petition the divorce from as this can have an impact in cases with overseas connections.
- The Response
Following the receipt of the Divorce Petition with the Courts, a copy is sent to the other party (the Respondent).
A Notice of Proceedings informing them of the next steps, and an Acknowledgment of Service form will also be sent to the Respondent. When the form has been completed, the divorce will be able to proceed.
He or she must respond with the forms within 14 days of receipt. If they are not completed or ignored, and the Petitioner has good reason to know the Respondent is still living at the address supplied, they can request for Court bailiffs to serve the forms personally.
This will require a fee payment of £110, with further information form the Courts also required.
- Conditional Order Application
When there has been full acknowledgement of the form, an Applicant will need to apply for a Conditional Order but will have to wait 20 weeks from the date of the Petition being issued until this can be applied for.
If a divorce was applied for online, there will be online instructions given, and you can also apply for a Conditional Order by post. The order will be lodged at the courts alongside a statement verifying the details.
The Courts will then consider the application and when it is satisfied that the person applying can go ahead with the divorce, they will issue a Certificate of Entitlement.
- Receipt of the Conditional Order
This Court Order will be sent to both parties; however, the divorce is not complete until the Final Order has been pronounced.
The Final Order cannot be applied for until six weeks and one day after the Conditional Order is received. This can be done either solely or jointly by the applicants.
- Final Order
The fifth and final step in the legal ending of a marriage is the Final Order pronouncement. This is made by the Court following receipt of the Notice of Application for Conditional Order.
When this has been granted, the divorce will be finalised and the marriage will be officially ended.
However, this does not mean that a former spouse will not then be entitled to make a claim on any financial income or assets the other party has now or in the future.
If these assets need to be protected then applicants need to seek a Clean Break Consent Order which prevents either party making a financial claim against the other.
It is often advisable that divorcing parties wishing to have a clean break order wait for this to be finalised before the Final Order pronouncement.
Although no-fault divorce laws have made divorces less acrimonious, and online divorce applications have made it more accessible there can still be pitfalls, especially financially.
Seeking the help of a family law expert before you begin proceedings can prove helpful in many cases. The involvement of property assets, money and children and support and other issues can make an already emotionally charged situation more challenging if professional help is not sought.
Source: Major Family Law, UK