There are several papers you need to start a divorce:
Later you will need to complete:
The main document necessary to start a divorce is the divorce “petition”, the application. There is a combined form for divorce and civil partnership dissolution. This makes it a bit confusing about ticking the right boxes in some places. There are also notes for guidance on this link.
You must read the instructions and the form very carefully so as to complete it correctly, for example in part 1 you need to write the names as they are now, while in part 2 they need to be copied from the marriage (or civil partnership) certificate, even if they were spelled wrongly or a middle name was missed out by accident, for example.
“The respondent has had sexual relationships with other people and the petitioner does not feel that he/she can continue to live with the respondent.”
You do not have to fill the box! The same applies to adultery (check the definition here, it does not apply for civil partnership dissolution!):
“The Respondent has committed adultery with another man/woman [who the petitioner knows but wishes not to mention/unknown to the Petitioner] and this is continuing/on or around [date].”
If you rely on separation, you need to write something like:
“The petitioner realised that the relationship had run its course on or around [date] and move out of the joint home on [date] [and for two years’ separation and consent] and the Respondent consents to the divorce.”
You will need your marriage certificate to start a divorce. If you do not have it any more, you can get a copy from the Register Office where you married or from the General Register Office. You can do this online once you have registered or over the telephone. There is a separate fee for an expedited service. You can ask the General Register Office to send the new marriage certificate directly to your solicitor if you have one.
The court will keep the marriage certificate. If you think you may need it later, you should get another one.
You cannot send a photocopy to the court, they need the original, although in some urgent cases you can deliver this later. You should talk to your solicitor if you have difficulties getting hold of your marriage certificate.
If you married abroad and the marriage certificate is in a foreign language, you will need to get a certified translation. This can be expensive.
In some countries you can get a multi-lingual marriage certificate from the place where you registered. This looks a little bit like an EU Passport, often with numbered boxes and the description for each number on the back of the page in many languages. There is an example here.
When the divorce law was made, the judge had to decide where the children should live. This is no longer the case and if there is no dispute, the court will almost certainly make no order.
Nevertheless, the person starting the divorce needs to complete a form about the arrangements for the children. You can find a copy of the form on the Courts Service website here.
You should try to agree this document with your spouse before you start the divorce unless this is not possible or inappropriate. There is no penalty for not doing so.
It is important to get the form right because if there should later be a dispute about the arrangements for children, it could be referred to.
Once your spouse has returned the completed acknowledgement of service form to the court and you have a copy, you need to complete the statement in support to apply for the decree nisi (or the conditional order in a civil partnership dissolution). The statement in support is a court form you will have to fill in. You have to be very careful to answer the questions correctly or your divorce or same-sex civil partnership dissolution may get rejected because there is a legal rule behind each of the questions. Here the help and advice of a solicitor can be very useful. You have to use a different form depending on the fact on which your divorce or civil partnership dissolution relies:
If your spouse has signed the acknowledgement of service form (rather than a solicitor only on their behalf), you need to attach a copy and complete the bits about recognising their signature too.
There is a statement of truth at the end, so everything must be absolutely correct. If it later turned out that you did not tell the truth, you could be fined or imprisoned for it.
You then send the form to the court together with your application for a decree nisi or conditional order (another court form). There is no fee.
There is a simple form for this.
There is one other document, which your solicitor needs to draft if you have one, showing whether or not they have advised you about reconciliation. It has no discernable function.
For advice on your specific circumstances contact Andrea Woelke at Alternative Family Law: ring us on 020 7407 4007 (+44 20 7407 4007 from abroad) or email us (stating your full name, the full name of the other person in your case and your telephone number on which we can call you).
Please note that we do not have a contract to take on cases on legal aid. To check if you may be able to get legal aid please go to this government website and contact a solicitor who has a legal aid contract.
6 August 2013 by Andrea Woelke
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This is an outline of the law, practice and procedure in England and Wales. It should not be taken as specific advice. All families and couples are different. The law may have changed since this was written and we therefore accept no liability for inaccuracies. Where examples are given, your personal circumstances may vary slightly, but the difference may be significant for the outcome of the legal process. Contact us for specific advice on your own circumstances.
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