In the case of a marriage dissolution, you would receive a ‘divorce petition’ from the divorce centre.
Beside this, you would also receive:
- A notice of proceedings form.
- An acknowledgment of service pack.
The notice of proceedings form contains your case number and how to make your response to the divorce application.
Responding to Acknowledgement of Service Form
There is a time limit for completing the acknowledgement of service form. It is fourteen (14) days from the date of receipt. Fill it in and send it to the court before the deadline.
Failing to Respond in Time
Even if you do not respond in time, your spouse (husband or wife) may still be able to continue with the divorce. It would depend on whether the court decides that you did receive the papers.
It is not uncommon for the court to deliver divorce papers ‘personally’ to you. If so, they would have proof that you received them. But, there can be a cost for receiving hand delivery forms from the court.
Note: You can get further advice on responding to a petition from the divorce centre or from a legal adviser.
If You Agree to the Divorce
Assuming you give your consent, you should go ahead and fill in the acknowledgment of service form. Return it to the divorce centre within eight (8) days and the proceedings will begin.
If You Disagree with the Divorce
If you do not give consent you still need to fill in the acknowledgment of service form. But, you should fill in the part that states that you are defending the divorce. Return it to the divorce centre within eight (8) days and they will send copies to your spouse (husband or wife).
You will need to download and fill in the ‘answer to a divorce petition‘ as well. Do this within 21 days of sending the defence form.
It is your opportunity to say why you disagree with the divorce. But, there may be court-filing fees to pay around £245.
Starting Your Own Divorce Proceedings
Once you get the petition you can also start your own divorce from your husband or your wife. You would need to have valid grounds for filing a divorce, use the D8 application form, and pay the mandatory court fee.
If there is a Court Hearing
As a rule, there will be a court hearing to discuss the case when:
- Both sides file divorce petitions.
- One of the spouses defends the divorce.
Note: Both sides usually need to attend the hearing to try and reach an agreement over the divorce. It may be best to get some legal advice (e.g. from the Law Society) if there will be a court hearing.
If the Divorce is Not Finalised
Your husband or wife should apply for a decree absolute after they started the divorce proceedings. This is the legal document that ends the marriage. But, you can apply instead if they have not applied for it.
You must wait four (4) months, two (2) weeks, and one (1) day after the date of the decree nisi before you can do this. Use the ‘D11 application notice form‘ for this purpose.
There would be a £167 court fee to pay and both parties would need to attend the court hearing.