If you are considering getting divorced or have already made the decision that this is what you want to do, you likely have a lot of questions. Understanding how to start divorce proceedings is, unsurprisingly, one of the first things people think of, but there are also a number of other issues you should carefully consider before getting the process started.
In this blog, we will explain how to apply for divorce, the stages of divorce proceedings and why working with a solicitor is recommended. You should then have a good grounding in how to get divorced and what other issues you will need to deal with.
Please note that the information here is intended for general information purposes only. It should not be taken as legal advice and we would always recommend consulting an experienced divorce solicitor before initiating divorce proceedings.
For specific legal advice, including help with all aspects of divorce proceedings, please contact your local Henriques Griffiths office in Bristol or Winterbourne or use our simple enquiry form to ask a question or request a call back.
How to apply for divorce
Making a divorce application (sometimes called ‘filing for divorce’) is now a relatively straightforward process. You will need to complete an application form, which is usually done online, but you can request a paper copy if you prefer.
For your application, you will need both spouses’ full names and addresses, your marriage certificate (either the original or a certified copy) and, if you have changed your name since you got married, proof of this (e.g. your marriage certificate or a deed poll).
You can either make a sole application (by yourself) or a joint application (with your spouse). Your application will need to include a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown’ to confirm the marriage is over but there is no longer any need to provide reasons to support this.
There is a divorce application fee of £593 (correct as of September 2023) that you will need to pay.
What are the stages of divorce proceedings?
The court issues the divorce application
Once the court receives your divorce application, it will officially ‘issue’ it. This means that the court accepts that the application is valid and has been properly completed. You will receive notice that the application has been issued and, if you made a sole application, your spouse will be sent a copy of the application. If you provided an email address for your spouse, then the application will be emailed to them. Otherwise, they will be sent it in the post.
Acknowledgement of service (for sole applications only)
If you made a sole application, then your spouse will have 14 days to complete an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form and return this to the court from the date they are sent a copy of the application.
If they do not respond, this can temporarily hold up divorce proceedings, but it cannot prevent them. The court will make all reasonable efforts to confirm that your spouse has received the application and, once they are satisfied that this has been done, the divorce can proceed.
In your spouse’s response, they can either confirm that they agree with the divorce or state that they intend to dispute the divorce. However, there are now very limited grounds on which a spouse can dispute a divorce, so this rarely comes up.
You will need to wait a minimum of 20 weeks after your divorce application is issued, which is intended as time to reflect on the divorce and make sure it is truly what you want. After this time, you can apply to the court for a Conditional Order. This is a court order that states there is no reason known to the court that your divorce cannot go ahead.
After the Conditional Order is granted, you must wait a further 6 weeks, which is to provide additional time for reflecting. Once 6 weeks has passed, you can apply to the court for a Final Order. This is the court order that legally ends your marriage. Once you have a Final Order, your marriage is over.
Do you need a solicitor to get divorced?
In theory, you can get divorced without using a solicitor. However, there are very good reasons to seek expert legal help from specialist divorce solicitors when ending your marriage.
Firstly, a solicitor will be able to make sure that your divorce application is completed correctly, reducing the risk of avoidable delays. They can also take charge of applying for the Conditional Order and Final Order, making sure that these steps in your divorce proceedings are dealt with promptly.
An experienced divorce solicitor can also advise you on all of the issues you need to consider when getting divorce, including arrangements for children and divorce financial matters. These matters can often be complicated to understand and challenging to deal with, especially when it comes to divorce and property and divorce and pensions.
Working with expert divorce solicitors can make sure you get the best outcome from the end of your marriage, including protecting your future financial security. This is, therefore, an area where we really do believe specialist legal advice is essential.
Contact our divorce solicitors in Bristol or Winterbourne
If you need help with starting divorce proceedings or any part of the divorce process, including financial matters, we will be happy to help. Our divorce solicitors in Bristol and Winterbourne have many years of experience and can ably support you with even the most complex matters.
For expert advice on any matters related to divorce and separation, you can contact your local Henriques Griffiths office in Bristol or Winterbourne or use our simple enquiry form to ask a question or request a call back.