My spouse wants a divorce. What do I do now?

dahab, egypt,2007If your spouse has decided to divorce you, they will have completed a divorce petition and submitted it to the court along with your original marriage certificate and a fee of £410. If you have children from your marriage that are under 16, or children at school, college or in training that are under 18, a statement of arrangements will also have been completed and sent to the court at the same time. This includes details about childcare, maintenance and contact with your children.

Once the divorce petition has been filed at court, you will be sent the divorce petition, a notice of proceedings form and an acknowledgement of service form. You are now known as the Respondent. The notice of proceedings form tells you your case number and what you should do next. The acknowledgement of service form is what you use to respond. You must fill it in and return it within 21 days – if you don’t do this, then the divorce will proceed as if you have agreed to it.

Upon receiving these documents it is advisable that you seek the services of a divorce solicitor immediately, as they can advise you about what to do, explain your rights to you, and help you with matters such as finances and children. When you receive the documents, you essentially have three options:

Option 1: agree with the divorce petition. If you do this then you simply fill in and return the acknowledgement of service form to the court within eight days in order for the divorce to proceed, with a decree nisi then being applied for. As long as you both agree on how to look after the children and how to split your assets then the divorce will be straightforward.

Option 2: disagree with the divorce petition, and it becomes a contested divorce. If you don’t agree with the divorce petition you must complete the acknowledgement of service form within 8 days, filling in the part which says that you are defending the divorce. The court will then notify your spouse of this. You then have 21 days to say why you are defending the divorce by filling in the answer to the divorce petition, which is known as “giving an answer”. You may also have to pay a fee to the court of £245.

Option 3: begin your own divorce proceedings against your spouse. To do this you will also need to fill in a divorce petition form and pay a fee to the court of £410.

A contested divorce is unusual, and often become extremely expensive and complicated. Because of this, many respondents who initially choose to contest the divorce decide to agree to it. If you do choose to proceed, the court will hold a hearing to discuss the case, and both parties will have to attend the hearing to try to reach an agreement. Judges, barristers and solicitors will do their best to persuade couples to reach an agreement rather than go through an expensive contested divorce hearing.

For further information, click here to read our Guide to the Divorce Process.

Agree? Disagree? Do let Cooks Solicitors know what you think by commenting below.

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