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What is the divorce process?

The divorce process is the procedure that a couple goes through in order to legally dissolve their marriage. There is a specific process that must take place in order for the divorce to become final:

  • One partner must issue a divorce petition to the courts, and the other must respond to it.
  • The respondent either files an acknowledgement of service or fails to file it. If they fail to file the acknowledgement, the petitioner can arrange to have the documents personally served to them. The recipient then has eight days to state whether they agree or disagree. If no response is given, after 21 days the process will continue as if you have agreed.
  • If they do respond, the petitioner will then file a statement in support of the petition, directions for trial and a request for a decree nisi (application stating when the marriage will end, unless a good reason to reject the divorce is produced).
  • Decree nisi will be considered by the judge. If accepted, then the judge will pronounce the decree nisi.
  • The petitioner can then apply for a decree absolute (document legally dissolving the marriage and allowing both parties to remarry) after a minimum time period of six weeks. If the petitioner does not do this within 12 weeks, the respondent can apply for the decree.

You can also view our useful, easy to understand infographic ‘How to get a divorce’ for more information on the divorce process.

Learn more about the divorce process in England and Wales in our video, including the grounds for divorce.