Today, over 40% of all marriages end in divorce. Thankfully, the vast majority of these are uncontested and most are relatively straightforward. It is very rare for divorce proceedings to require attendance at court and most are a paper exercise. However, the forms and documentation are quite complicated and have to be perfectly drafted to avoid rejection by the court.
Procedure for uncontested divorce
The usual procedure for an uncontested divorce is for a petition to be drafted and then lodged with the court with supporting papers. These are then sent to the other party who has to acknowledge service of the papers. This is often the only time the other party is actively involved in the proceedings. Once this is done, the petitioning party can apply for the Decree Nisi for which a supporting affidavit (or sworn document) is required.
The divorce application papers are put before a judge who decides whether the parties are entitled to a divorce or not. If yes, the judge notifies the parties as to when Decree Nisi will be pronounced in court; if not, the parties are notified of the judge’s concerns. At the same time, the judge considers whether either party should be ordered to pay the divorce costs and also whether there are any concerns as to the proposed arrangements for the children. There is no need to attend court in most cases.
What happens next?
Once Decree Nisi is pronounced, the petitioning party must wait six weeks and one day before applying for the final decree which is called the Decree Absolute, at which point the marriage is formally dissolved. Often, the decision as to whether to apply as soon as you are able is influenced by financial considerations and specialist advice should be taken. If the petitioning party does not apply, the other party (the respondent) can apply but has to wait a further three months, and a court hearing is usually required.
For uncontested and uncomplicated divorce proceedings we offer a fixed fee of £300 plus VAT and court fees. For contested or complicated proceedings, the costs are likely to be higher and we can provide an estimate depending on individual circumstances.