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Divorce Proceedings - What Can I Do During Lockdown?

12 June

Divorce Proceedings - What Can I Do During Lockdown?

The divorce process in England and Wales is the same during the current pandemic. The process is mainly paper based and can all still be initiated and progressed whilst you are in lockdown or self-isolating.

The process is dependent on whether you are the Petitioner, the person starting and issuing the divorce proceedings or the Respondent, the person who is responding to the divorce petition. 

Nevertheless, there is only reason for a divorce which is irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This can be proved using one of five facts of which one is available to you at this time. These include Unreasonable Behaviour, Adultery, Desertion, Separation of 2 years or more with consent or Separation of 5 years without consent. 

Petitioner 

  • In order to issue your divorce proceedings we will require your original marriage certificate to send to the Court. The Court will not return this to you. If you do not have this, a copy can be obtained from the Local Council at a cost.
  • If you were married abroad, we may need to obtain a translation of your marriage certificate.
  • A court fee of £550 is payable.
  • Once the Divorce petition has been issued by the Court, they will then post the document to the Respondent and they will have 14 days within which to acknowledge service. 
  • After this you can apply for the first decree of divorce, Decree Nisi.  At this stage, the Judge will consider the papers and decide whether you are entitled to a divorce on the basis stated.  Assuming that the Judge agrees, a date for Decree Nisi will be fixed some three to four weeks ahead. 
  • Six weeks and one day after pronouncement of Decree Nisi you are in a position to apply for the final decree of divorce, Decree Absolute.  

Respondent 

  • Once the divorce papers are filed with the Court, you will be required to complete an Acknowledgement of Service.
  • Once the Acknowledgement of Service has been filed, the Petitioner will then be in a position to apply for the Decree Nisi as set out above.
  • A Petitioner is able to make a Claim for Costs against the Respondent. This is solely in relation to the divorce proceedings. 

The divorce process usually takes 6 months to complete. The only difference due to COVID-19 is the delay caused due to the Court systems prioritising other work. The current time estimate to complete the divorce proceedings is at least 9 months. 

In the future, we may see a change to the above process. The “No-fault” divorce Bill has recently been backed by MP’s. 

Currently as stated above, one party has to start divorce proceedings and cite reasons based on their behaviour, or adultery when divorcing (unless one of the other factors apply). The “No-fault” divorce bill will remove any blame and remove the need for the parties to stay married but separated for a number of years before issuing divorce proceedings. Both parties will be able to provide a statement confirming that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. It will also give the parties the option of making a joint application for divorce if they wanted. 

It is hoped that this will help reduce the emotional distress when parties are going through a separation and will help ease the legal process, whilst promoting conciliations and compromise. 

If you have any queries then please contact our family department on 0114 220 2186.