You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Seven steps of getting a divorce

The seven steps of getting a divorce:

Step 1: Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

The government is keen to keep divorce cases out of court and to encourage a more grown-up approach to relationship breakdown. So before making a court application relating to your children or finances, you must first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (some exemptions apply, if you’re concerned, please ask us for details).

Our family mediators are experienced in holding these assessment meetings and you can attend on your own or together with your soon-to-be-ex-partner. If you decide that mediation is not suitable, or the respondent (your partner) will not engage, your mediator will sign a form to allow you to proceed with your divorce court application.

Step 2: Petition

The first step in divorce proceedings is the petition. The petition sets out the details of the Petitioner, the Respondent, your marriage and the particulars of why you are seeking a divorce. If you are the Petitioner, you may also ask for the court to order that the Respondent pay some or all of your costs.

You should also complete a Statement of Arrangements for any children, which informs the court where they currently live and current contact arrangements etc, and proposed arrangements for the future, after you divorce.

It is good practice to send the divorce petition and Statement of Arrangements to the Respondent so that you can agree the contents before they are formally issued by the court.

Step 3: Acknowledgement

When the court issues the divorce petition, it will send a copy to the Respondent with an Acknowledgement of Service form.

The Respondent must indicate on the form whether s/he intends to defend the petition and whether s/he is satisfied with the Statement of Arrangements for the children, though s/he may change her/his mind later.

The Respondent must return the Acknowledgement of Service within 7 days and may complete the form to agree that you have lived apart for two years or to admit adultery. Once s/he has returned the Acknowledgement of Service your divorce can proceed to the next stage.

If the Respondent does not return the Acknowledgement of Service within 14 days, for whatever reason, you can apply for the petition to be personal “served” on the respondent, or for service on the Respondent to be dispensed with.

Step 4: Application

If you are the Petitioner, you can usually apply for directions for trial when you receive the Acknowledgment of Service, unless the court allows you to proceed without the Acknowledgement of Service (usually because it is satisfied that the Respondent has been served or that service is not possible). Together with your request for directions, you must file a Statement of Truth in support of your petition and any supporting evidence with the court.

Step 5: Court

Once your request for directions and Statement of Truth have been filed with the court, your case will be put on the Special  Procedure list and a District Judge will consider whether you have proved your case.

If the Judge is satisfied, s/he will produce a District Judge’s certificate, fix a date for Decree Nisi, consider the arrangements for your children and consider whether a costs order should be made.

Step 6: Decree Nisi

The Decree Nisi is a conditional order and does not dissolve your marriage. The order will be read out in an open court on a specific day. Neither you nor your partner need to attend this hearing unless there is a costs dispute.

Step 7: Decree Absolute

Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of your Decree Nisi, you can apply to the court to grant a Decree Absolute, which means that your marriage will be dissolved and you will be divorced. If you have a pending financial claim or to preserve home rights, you may delay applying for Decree Absolute.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.