Divorce Process

Category: Divorce

We understand the Divorce process can be confusing.

From a lawyer’s perspective, the process is very procedural and can be navigated easily. However, it is not always the same for those going through a divorce.

Free Divorce Flowchart

We have produced a flowchart that guides you through the steps.


The first step is to draft and issue a petition. There is only one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This means that there is no possible way the parties will reconcile.

To prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Petitioner (the person issuing the petition) must rely on one of five facts:

  1. Desertion;
  2. Unreasonable Behaviour of the Respondent;
  3. Adultery committed by the Respondent;
  4. 2 Years’ Separation with consent of the Respondent; or
  5. 5 Years’ Separation.

If using a solicitor, it is common and best practice to provide the Respondent with a draft copy of the petition before it is issued with the Court, particularly if unreasonable behaviour is being relied upon. This gives the Respondent the opportunity to consider the petition and suggest amendments that would then allow the divorce to proceed smoothly without the risk of the Respondent defending the divorce. It also reduces the impact of the Respondent receiving the petition from the Court.

Issued Petition

On the issue, the Petitioner will have to pay a £593 Court fee. The Court then processes the application and sends a copy to the Respondent for their acknowledgement. The Respondent then has 7 days to return the Acknowledgement of Service to say whether they intend to defend the divorce or to allow it to proceed.

Ordinarily, the Respondent will allow the divorce to proceed and the Petitioner can then make the application for the Decree Nisi. At this stage, the petition is considered by a Judge, who will decide whether the petition meets the criteria for a divorce. If the Judge is content that the marriage is over, a Certificate of Entitlement will be granted. The Certificate of Entitlement will contain details of when the Decree Nisi will be pronounced by the Court.

Decree Nisi

It is important to remember that the parties are still legally married at the Decree Nisi stage.

Once the Decree Nisi is granted, the parties should consider the financial situation. The Court can only make financial Orders when the divorce is at the Decree Nisi stage.

Decree Absolute

The earliest point the Petitioner can apply for the Decree Absolute is 6 weeks and 1 day after the date of the Decree Nisi. It is common practice that the application for the Decree Absolute is not made until the finances have been resolved. If the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute, the Respondent can apply once 18 weeks and 1 day from the date of the Decree Nisi have passed.

Once the Decree Absolute is granted, the parties are legally divorced.

no fault divorce

Ready to start this process?

Although the flowchart is useful, we think that the best thing initially, is to contact us and speak with one of our Family Team. We’ll listen to you, answer your questions and you can then decide if you would like us to help. Give us a call on 01752 827030, request a callback, or email us at [email protected]

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