As it is when getting married, the divorce process takes time, preparation and money. Although getting a divorce is stressful enough, unfortunately, the UK legislation can make it an even more tedious procedure, so it's important that you know the basics before you take action.
The Divorce Process and Mandatory Divorce Grounds
Before filing for divorce, you will first need to establish the grounds for divorce. The UK marital legislation requires that one or more divorce grounds are met, in order for the divorce to take place. The most common divorce grounds are adultery, abusive behaviour by, desertion for more than two years and separation. Keep in mind that separation in marriage is divided in two categories, depending on the duration – at least two or five years. Both cases are considered valid grounds for divorce, the difference between them being that, while separation for at least two years requires bilateral consent for divorce, separation for at least five years is considered a valid ground regardless if the spouse does or does not agree to the divorce.
Filing a Petition and Starting the Divorce Process
Now that you know the grounds for divorce, you will need to fill out and send three copies of the divorce petition either to a county court or to the Principal Registry of the Family Division in London. It is mandatory for the divorce petition – also known as "form D8"- to point out one or more of the divorce grounds mentioned above.
Additionally, in case you have children who are under the age of 16, you will also need to fill out three copies of the form called "statement of arrangements for children", also known as "form D8A". Keep in mind that the cost for starting a divorce is about £340, but there are certain cases where you could get a discount.
How does the divorce process develop after the court receives your petition?
Once the divorce petition has been sent by the petitioner, the court will send one form to your spouse – who will be referred to as "responder"- and, in case of adultery divorce grounds, an additional petition will be sent to the third person involved in the adultery, referred to as "co-responder".
From this point on, the process can go on in one of two ways. Either the responder will agree with your terms of divorce, resulting in a much quicker process, or the responder will challenge your decision to divorce, resulting in a much longer and expensive process. Additionally, the spouse can fill in his or her own petition, citing his or her own grounds for divorce, an act which is known as "cross petition".
What's most important?
All in all, it is very important that, before you decide to get a divorce, you take the necessary time to talk to the spouse and agree on certain terms. This will not only save you time, but it will save you money and the divorce process will be less stressful for both of you.