Walk Through The Stages of Divorce

Let us walk you through the stages of divorce.

It isn't as confusing or complex as many people think.

Relationships frequently break down and it isn't something people usually prepare for. However, the family law specialists can almost predict to the day when their offices will be filled with new clients. Statistics show that the end of summer and the new year are the busiest time of year. 

So relax, you're not alone. It may be the end of a painful relationship but it could also be the start of something magnificent. Let's keep things simple shall we? The stages of divorce are quite simple after all, and you don't even need to understand Latin!

Five Stages of Divorce

Step One: File your application (petition) for a Decree Nisi

Step Two: Consider your former partners response to your application

Step Three: Confirm to the Court your intention to proceed to Decree Nisi

Step Four: Negotiate a settlement over child care and finances 

Step Five: Around 6 weeks later file your application for a Decree Absolute

Decree Nisi

You submit your application for a divorce to the courts outlining the grounds and the preliminary arrangements for any children. The Decree Nisi is the courts acknowledgement that there are no reasons why you cannot divorce. 

Your partner then must be served with your application at the same time and the court may need evidence of service. Your partner then has a period of time to submit his/her response.

The court then notify you of the response so you can consider any counter argument raised, and whether the application is to be contested.

Once you have considered your partners response you must report back to the court and the matter will then be listed. 

Congratulations, you just made it through stage 1 of your divorce!

If you both agree, there isn't any need to attend any hearing and the court will issue the decree nisi and you will receive a notice in the post. You can even navigate all five stages of divorce without a court hearing.

Decree Absolute

This is often much more complex, and much more likely to be contested prior to going to court. This is where you need to finally arrange for allocation of the assets, make arrangements for maintenance payments and get closure on your divorce. 

You must wait at least six weeks from the Decree Nisi, but should apply for your Decree Absolute within 12 months, otherwise the court may ask for an explanation about the delay.

This process presents lots of opportunity for emotional stress, and heartbreak and the real cost of divorce becomes ever more apparent. The stages of divorce maps the process for you, but the content in each stage can vary dramatically from divorce to divorce.

There are two clear ways forward, that used to be known as Ancillary Relief. It is now much simpler to understand. If you can agree the terms with each other and want the agreement to be legally binding (recommended) then a solicitor can draft certain 'Orders' for the court to consider. The idea here is that the settlement is a clean break, which means that there will be no future argument over the terms of your divorce. This is especially why we would recommend getting professional legal advice.

There are many options or paths to go down with this process, and it can be as complicated or as simple as you choose, and dependant upon your personal situation. Private investments, property assets, business interests, accounts, debts, all need to be taken int account.

Each side must be aware of the others position for the divorce to be fair, and the courts will generally not be biased to one side over another.

Any point you are able to agree upon with your partner will significantly reduce the cost and speed up the process. And vice versa, any point in dispute cans significantly delay the outcome and increase the cost of your divorce.

Examples of Court Orders 

You are ready to file your papers. What next?

The court will need to see that both parties have been served all papers, at each stage. You may be the petitioner or the respondent. If you are filing for divorce you petition the court to dissolve your marriage, much like a business partnership might need to be dissolved.

You need to be clear on any orders you wish the court to make. Orders can be around child care, child contact, or even child protection if that has been an issue for you. 

Orders can be around finances for example spousal maintenance or child maintenance. Orders can be around settling the joint assets or business's. The court can also order parties to sell property and compensate the other party. 

As each case is unique we recommend seeking professional legal advice. 

Action Steps...

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