The Divorce process

At Higgins Miller we understand that the process of divorce is as much an emotional matter as it is a practical one. That’s why we always go out of our way to empathise with our clients and to offer advice which balances legal expertise with an understanding of how stressful the situation can be.

We specialise in family law in Stockport, working extensively in fields such as special guardianships and adoption, children disputes and financial settlements. All of these might conceivably overlap with the issues surrounding a divorce case, and the fact that we have wide-ranging expertise means that there is no aspect of a divorce which we won’t have experience of dealing with. Whilst recognising the personal impact of the end of a relationship, particularly one involving children, we appreciate that our chief role, after a client has decided when to get a divorce, is to offer advice which is clear, accessible and practical. By dealing calmly with this aspect of the process of divorce, we feel able to minimise the emotional impact and maximise the chance of arriving at a solution which works best for all parties, particularly any children involved.

There’s no hard and fast rule about when to get a divorce, but if you feel your relationship has reached the point at which it cannot be salvaged, then you should get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity. We’ll explain the procedure for divorce and, if you decide to go through with it, we’ll set out the divorce steps in a clear and accessible manner.

The first thing to consider when going through the process of divorce is finding your marriage certificate. You’ll need this when you go to court to start your divorce petition, a process which involves filling in form D8 and providing the court with your spouse’s address, so that they can then serve the petition.

This will involve sending them a copy of the petition, but it might be a good idea to discuss the petition with your spouse before filing it with the court. As solicitors we’ve been through the process of divorce many times, and know that, although it may seem difficult at first, avoiding conflict as far as possible is absolutely vital. That’s why it makes sense to get in touch with us as soon as you begin to consider taking divorce steps. Although it is possible to work through the process without expert advice, any mistakes you make, even slight mistakes, could have serious ramifications further down the line. You’ll need to know, for example, what kind of reasons for the divorce you can claim in your initial petition, what to do if your spouse doesn’t respond to the petition, or responds by saying that they intend to defend it, and, if they don’t wish to defend it, how to go about finalising arrangements regarding finances and child care.

If your spouse doesn’t defend the petition, and the court feels the reasons given are sufficient, then you can apply for what is known as a Decree Nisi. If your spouse does offer a defence, on the other hand, then you will have to go to court, and dealing with the technicalities of the case will definitely require the kind of expert legal advice we can offer.

Once the decree nisi has been granted, you will have to wait for a period of six weeks and one day to apply for a decree Absolute, which will formally end the marriage. If you were not the petitioner, however, then the waiting period is four and a half months, and the process is more complex. If you petitioned originally, on the other hand, applying for a decree absolute involves simply filling in form D36 and filing it with the court.       

Although the standard divorce steps seem fairly straightforward, the actual process can be anything but, particularly if shared finances and the well-being of any children are involved. That’s why we would always recommend seeking legal advice such as we offer, and why getting in touch with us could save a great deal of time, trouble, stress and money further down the line.  

If you’d like to know more about the steps for divorce, then please call us on 0161 429 7251, or email us at [email protected] A 20 minute legal aid appraisal is free of charge, and a fixed fee first appointment will cost just £50 (Plus VAT). For further details of our wider case funding, see here.

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