Divorce Petition

Divorce Petition
Divorce Petition
Full Overview Of Divorce Petition

Divorce can be one of an individual’s most challenging experiences, affecting various aspects of one’s life, including emotional well-being, finances, and family dynamics. In the UK, the process of obtaining a divorce starts with filing a divorce petition. This document serves as a formal request to the court for the dissolution of a marriage.

At DLS Solicitors, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the divorce petition process to ensure you are well informed and prepared as you navigate this significant life event.

Understanding the Grounds for Divorce

In the UK, one must establish that the marriage has irretrievably broken down to file for divorce. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which came into force on 6 April 2022, introduced a new ‘no-fault’ divorce process, eliminating the need to prove fault or blame. Before this legislation, applicants had to rely on one of five grounds: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent, or five years’ separation without consent.

The current process only requires the applicant to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. This significant change aims to reduce conflict and promote a more amicable approach to divorce.

Preparing to File a Divorce Petition

Before filing a divorce petition, it is crucial to consider several factors. These include the following:

Legal Advice

While it is possible to file for divorce without legal representation, seeking advice from a solicitor is highly recommended. A solicitor can help you understand your rights, guide you through the process, and ensure that your interests are protected, especially if complex financial arrangements or children are involved.

Counselling and Mediation

Divorce can be emotionally taxing, and it is beneficial to consider counselling or mediation. These services provide support and can facilitate better communication between spouses, potentially leading to more amicable agreements regarding children, property, and finances.

Financial Considerations

Assessing your financial situation is a critical step. This includes understanding your assets, liabilities, and income. It may also be necessary to seek financial advice to plan for your future and ensure financial stability post-divorce.

Children’s Welfare

If children are involved, their welfare should be a primary concern. Arrangements regarding custody, living arrangements, and financial support need to be considered and agreed upon. Ensuring that children are shielded from conflict and have their needs met is paramount.

The Process of Filing a Divorce Petition

Completing the Divorce Application

The divorce process begins with completing a divorce application. This can be done either online or by submitting a paper form. The application requires basic information about both spouses, the marriage, and any children from the marriage. It also includes the applicant’s statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Submitting the Application to the Court

Once the application is completed, it must be submitted to the court, along with the requisite fee. As of 2023, the fee for filing a divorce petition is £593. Fee exemptions or reductions may be available for those who meet specific financial criteria.

Service of the Application

After the court receives the application, it will serve the divorce papers on the respondent (the other spouse). The court typically handles this process electronically if the application is submitted online. For paper applications, the applicant may need to arrange for personal service.

Respondent’s Acknowledgment

Upon receiving the divorce papers, the respondent must acknowledge receipt. This is done by completing an Acknowledgment of Service form, which confirms to the court that they have received the petition and states whether they intend to contest the divorce.

Applying for Conditional Order

If the respondent does not contest the divorce, the next step is for the applicant to apply for a Conditional Order (previously known as a Decree Nisi). The Conditional Order is a document issued by the court indicating that there is no reason why the divorce cannot proceed.

Conditional Order Pronouncement

The court will review the application for the Conditional Order and, if satisfied, set a date for its pronouncement. This is typically done without a court hearing. The Conditional Order does not finalise the divorce but signifies that the court sees no reason why it should not be granted.

Applying for Final Order

After the Conditional Order is pronounced, the applicant must wait at least six weeks before applying for the Final Order (previously known as the Decree Absolute), which legally ends the marriage.

Final Order Pronouncement

Once the application for the Final Order is submitted, the court will review it and, if satisfied, issue the Final Order, officially dissolving the marriage. Both parties will receive a copy of the Final Order, marking the legal end of the marriage.

Post-Divorce Considerations

Financial Orders

Even after the divorce is finalised, it may be necessary to obtain a financial order to address the division of assets, spousal maintenance, and other financial matters. If both parties are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make the decision.

Child Arrangements

Post-divorce, arrangements regarding children must be clearly defined. This includes living arrangements, visitation schedules, and financial support. If disputes arise, they may need to be resolved through mediation or, in some cases, by a court order.

Changing Your Will

A divorce does not automatically invalidate a will. Reviewing and updating your will to reflect your new circumstances and ensuring that your wishes are accurately represented is essential.

Rebuilding Your Life

Divorce is a significant life change, and focusing on rebuilding your life is crucial. This may involve seeking emotional support, pursuing new interests, and establishing a new routine that promotes well-being and personal growth.


Filing for divorce is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration and planning. By understanding the steps involved and seeking appropriate legal and emotional support, you can navigate the process more effectively and minimise the associated stress and conflict.

At DLS Solicitors, we are committed to providing expert guidance and support throughout the divorce process, ensuring that your rights are protected and your transition to the next chapter of your life is as smooth as possible. If you have any questions or need assistance with your divorce petition, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Divorce Petition FAQ'S

A divorce petition is a legal document that initiates the divorce process. It is submitted to the court by one spouse (the petitioner) and outlines the grounds for divorce and the details of the marriage.

As of April 2022, the UK has introduced “no-fault” divorce, meaning you no longer need to prove grounds such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation. A statement of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is sufficient.

You can start a divorce petition online or by completing a paper form (D8) and sending it to the Family Court. The form includes details about your marriage, any children, and your reasons for seeking a divorce.

The court fee for filing a divorce petition is currently £593. You may be eligible for a fee reduction or exemption based on your financial situation.

While you do not need a solicitor to file for divorce, it is advisable to seek legal advice, especially if there are complex financial or child arrangements to consider.

The divorce process typically takes around 6-12 months from the filing of the petition to the final order (formerly known as the decree absolute). This timeframe can vary depending on the complexity of the case and court availability.

A conditional order (formerly known as decree nisi) is a provisional court order stating that the court sees no reason why the divorce cannot proceed. The final order (formerly known as decree absolute) is the final legal document that ends the marriage.

Under the no-fault divorce system, contesting a divorce petition is generally not possible since neither party needs to prove fault or blame. However, you can raise concerns about the divorce arrangements, such as finances or child custody.

After filing the petition, it will be served to your spouse (the respondent), who must acknowledge receipt. The court will then set a date for the conditional order. Once the conditional order is granted, you can apply for the final order after a minimum of six weeks and one day.

If your spouse does not respond to the divorce petition, you can still proceed with the divorce. You may need to provide evidence of service to the court, and there are legal steps to take, such as applying for a deemed service or substituted service.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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