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Vines Legal's A-Z of All things Family and Matrimonial; D for Divorce

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Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series.  Today’s topic is Divorce. 

Have you or a loved one been thinking of divorce? Divorce, it’s a scary word but it’s ok, read today’s blog which will give you some good tips to prepare, tell you about the five stages and finally a glossary to tell you what all these new words mean. 


It’s a good idea to read up on divorce and get yourself familiar with what’s to come next. Here are some tips for preparing for divorce:

  1. Be absolutely positive you want a divorce
  2. Accept that your divorce is what needs to happen
  3. Get yourself a good solicitor
  4. Get support from friends and family
  5. Set realistic goals for the future
  6. Try to act civil with your spouse
  7. Hope for the best but also prepare for the worst
  8. Know that you will be okay no matter what the outcome may be



1. The Petition

The divorce process starts with one party sending their Petition to the Court., It can sometimes be a a good idea for the other spouse to see a copy of the divorce petition before it is sent to the Court. Once the petition has been sent to the Court it will be given a case number and copies will be sent to the other party. This is known as issuing. It can take two to three weeks for the Court to issue the divorce papers and send them out.

2. The response

Once the other spouse receives the papers they must then respond to them by filling in a form called an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’. This is sent to the Court within seven days and will confirm whether or not they agree to the petition continuing and what their position is regarding any claim for costs.  

If your spouse fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service your Solicitor will talk to you about the next steps.

3. The Decree Nisi

Once the acknowledgment of service has been returned to the Court, sealed and sent to the petitioner, the petitioner can then apply for Decree Nisi. This is the procedure by which the District Judge is asked to consider the petition and other papers and decide whether or not the petitioner is entitled to a divorce. To apply for Decree Nisi the petitioner needs to complete an application form and a statement confirming the contents of the petition are true.

If the District Judge is satisfied with the papers they will issue a Certificate confirming the time, date and place of the Decree Nisi pronouncement. It may not be necessary for either the petitioner or respondent to attend Court on the pronouncement.

4. Order From The Court

Once the Decree Nisi has been pronounced the solicitor will receive the Order from the Court. The Decree Nisi is the first decree in the divorce proceedings but it is not until Decree Absolute is pronounced that the divorce is finalised and you are no longer married.

5. Decree Absolute

Six weeks and one day from the date Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute, to complete the divorce proceedings. If the petitioner does not apply the respondent (other party) must wait a further three months before they may apply to the Court.

From start to finish the divorce process can take between four and six months, depending on the issues involved and the availability of the Court. If one of the parties decides not to co-operate or there are complicated financial issues it can take much longer to finalise matters.



When getting divorced or ending a civil partnership, you may hear or read legal words that may confuse you and make the process even more intimidating. Here are some of the key words you may see and their meanings.

Petitioner - or ‘applicant’ although both terms are often used. This is the person applying for the divorce.

Respondent - The person who receives the divorce petition/ application or some other application to court, such as in financial proceedings.

Petition - Now known as an Application for Divorce although both terms are still used. This is the application form you complete to request that the court grants you a divorce.

Prayer This the ‘summary’ section of the petition that asks the court to make an order for the marriage to be dissolved, that the respondent pay the costs of the application and that a Financial Order may be granted at some point.

Particulars - If an application for divorce is based on unreasonable behaviour or adultery, it has to set out details. This can be upsetting and, in some cases, offensive. It is nearly always best to try and agree the particulars before the application is sent to the court.

Acknowledgement of service - A standard form that the respondent (and any co-respondent) must sign and return to the court to confirm that they have received the petition/application and saying whether or not they agree to the divorce.

Decree Nisi - The interim decree or order of divorce indicating that the court is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi has been made, the applicant/petitioner can apply to the court to make Decree Nisi absolute (decree absolute) and the marriage is then terminated.

Decree absolute - The final order of the court, which dissolves the marriage.

Statement in support of divorce - This statement poses a number of questions aimed at ensuring that the contents of your petition remain true and correct and that there have been no changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to support the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. This statement has to be filed at court when you apply for your Decree Nisi.  

Arming yourself with accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. If you are considering a divorce and just wish to talk through the options then call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.    

By Administrator on 12 Sep 2019, 10:08 AM

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