It is the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. it came into effect from 6 April 2022

No. However, it is strongly advisable for agreement to be reached on financial issues and for an order to be made dealing with these issues before the Final order is made as some pension rights can be lost if not. The court may not agree for the divorce to proceed if the finances are not resolved.

No, this is not a pre-requisite to divorce. However, it is always good to start discussions about where the children will live and how much time they will spend with the non-resident parent when you do separate and live in separate households.

Your spouse can only dispute a divorce by challenging the jurisdiction of the Court or the validity of the marriage.

As you do not lay blame on each other there is no ability for your spouse to defend the divorce just because they do not like the fact that you seek to divorce them. However, there can still be acrimony, so it is always best to provide a draft of your application to your spouse before submitting the application to the court.

No. You only need to consider attending a MIAM before issuing financial remedy proceedings.

No. Who caused the divorce has no bearing on the financial settlement or arrangements for the children and so the application to divorce does not require any evidence or explanations of why the marriage has broken down.

Usually, the party that wants the divorce will apply. They will be called the applicant. The person who they are divorcing will be the respondent. Sometimes for religious reasons one party may choose to be the applicant.

Yes. In joint applications there will be applicant 1 and applicant 2, instead of applicant and respondent. Applicants should agree in advance of making the application which of them will take the role of applicant 1.

If issued online, once applicant 1 has provided the relevant information and submitted the application, applicant 2 will receive an email asking them to review the information provided by applicant 1 and provide any additional details. The application will then go back to applicant 1 to review applicant 2’s additions and submit to the court.

Joint applicants are able to make personal arrangements between them with regard to paying the fee for the application. However, on the digital service, applicant 1 will have to pay the court fee. On paper applications, either applicant may insert their details on the court fee page.

On paper forms, applicant 1 can complete their parts of the form and then post or email to applicant 2 to complete their relevant sections and agree the application together.

The usual time period of completion of an undisputed divorce where there are no difficulties with regard to service is about 7-12 months.

We now use the online divorce process which is much quicker than before. Either the applicant or joint applicant submit the application then the court issues the documentation. The court will then serve the application on the respondent by email and post. Service must take place within 28 days. The application is served along with an acknowledgement of service form and a notice of proceedings. There can be difficulties with serving the divorce petition which may result in the applicant having to make further applications to the court.

The respondent should then return the acknowledgement of service form to the court indicating whether or not he or she consents to the divorce and or if there is any issue with the validity of the marriage or jurisdiction of the courts. If the proceedings are undisputed there will be no need for either to attend court in relation to the divorce proceedings.

If the case is not disputed and the acknowledgement of service form has been returned, then the applicant can then apply for the Conditional Order after waiting 20 weeks. This is done by completing a further form. This is known as the application for Conditional Order stage. The 20 week waiting period allows parties to have a period of reflection and allow couples to resolve other issues such as child or financial arrangements.

Once submitted all documents have been submitted to the court the case is referred to a District Judge who will look at the divorce papers to see whether all the procedural details are correct.

Once the Conditional Order is granted there is a requirement to wait six weeks before the Conditional Order can be made Final. This is undertaken by submitting the relevant form to the court. In exceptional circumstances this six-week period can be abridged. If there is a joint application then one applicant has give 14 days notice to the other before applying for the Final Order.

In most cases the Final Order should not be applied for until such time as an Order has been approved by the Court dealings with all claims the parties have against each other for capital, income, pension sharing and under the inheritance Act. Neither party can remarry, nor indeed should they take steps to make arrangements for remarriage until the Final Order is obtained.

There is a court fee for submitting an application for divorce. This is currently £593. The applicant will need to submit a copy of the marriage certificate.

Yes. There is the potential that you may be given very short notice of the divorce being submitted by your spouse as they now have 28 days to serve the respondent from the date they issue it.

Further, even though you may decide to apply jointly for the divorce, this does not guarantee you will continue as joint applicants in the divorce application. Perhaps because of further deterioration of the relationship with the other party, or where the other party is not taking the necessary action to progress the application, it is possible to ‘switch’ the application from joint to sole. This can only happen at conditional and final order application stage.

Lastly, it is important to remain fully aware of the timetable of the divorce so that you can protect your rights as a spouse, until you have a financial order in place.

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