Ferndown (Head Office): 01202 877 400
Weymouth: 01305 470 051

Divorce Law and Procedure

Starting with a Divorce Petition and ending with a Decree Absolute Certificate; divorce is a legal process carried out by the court.

The Law

To be able to issue divorce proceedings, you will need to meet the following criteria:-

  • You must be married to your spouse for over a year
  • Your or spouse must be domiciled or have lived in England or Wales for the preceding year
However, in order to be granted a divorce, you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken. This can be established by relying on one of the following five facts:-

  • Adultery
    Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue to live together
  • Unreasonable Behaviour

    Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue to live together
  • Desertion for over 2 Years
    Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more
  • Two Years Separation (with consent)
    You and your spouse have lived separately for two years or more and your spouse
    agrees to the divorce
  • Five Years Separation (without consent)
    You and your spouse have been living separately for five years or more, whether or not your spouse consents to the divorce


The Procedure

Divorce Petition
To begin the process, you will need to complete and file a Petition with the Court along with your original marriage certificate and the required Court fee.

Service and Acknowledgment
When the Court have issued the Petition, a sealed copy with be sent to your spouse together with an Acknowledgement of Service Form. Your spouse will need to complete the Acknowledgement Form, sign it and return to the Court. If your spouse does not complete and return this form within 7 days, you will need to effect personal service of the paperwork upon your spouse.

Applying for your Decree Nisi
When your spouse returns the Acknowledgment of Service Form to Court, they will state on the form whether or not they intend to defend proceedings.

  • Undefended Proceedings – You can apply to the Court for Decree Nisi by completing an application form which is supported by a statement.
  • Defended Proceedings
    – Your spouse will have 29 days to file a defence which is known as an “answer” and a hearing is listed for the parties to attend before a Judge.

District Judge’s Certificate
Upon receipt of your application for Decree Nisi and statement in support, a Judge will consider the contents of the Petition and decide whether you are entitled to a Decree. If the Judge is satisfied, the Court will issue a Certificate fixing a date for the pronouncement of Decree Nisi.

Decree Nisi
A Judge will grant Decree Nisi upon the date listed on the Certificate of Entitlement and consider the issue of costs if sought.

Decree Absolute Certificate
Once Decree Absolute has been granted, your marriage will have officially been dissolved allowing you to remarry. Once Decree Absolute has been granted, your marriage will have officially been dissolved allowing you to remarry.

Please note that is sometimes advisable not to apply for Decree Absolute until financial matters are resolved. Additionally, if you remarry before financial matters have been resolved, you may lose some rights to claim financial provision within divorce proceedings.

Divorce Guides