When married couples divorce, it can either be by agreement of both parties or as a result of one party deciding the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

The only ground for divorce in England and Wales is the, “Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”. This can be evidenced by one of five factors:

  1. The Respondent’s Unreasonable Behaviour;
  2. The Respondent’s adultery;
  3. Two years separation with Consent
  4. Five years Separation
  5. Desertion.

The party who commences the divorce is known as the “Petitioner”. The party who receives the petition is the “Respondent”. You must have been married for at least one year before you are permitted to petition for divorce.

The process starts with the Petitioner’s solicitor drafting a Petition. The draft Petition is usually sent to the Respondent prior to being formally issue at Court. This is to allow the Respondent an opportunity to read the draft Petition so he/she will know what to expect when the papers arrive formally from the Court.

When the Petition is formally issued at one of the Divorce Units, the Petition will be allocated a case number. The divorce documents will be posted to the Respondent or his/her solicitor by the Court using first class post. A Respondent is required to complete an Acknowledgement of Service and return the Acknowledgement to the Court. If the Respondent fails to co-operate it may be necessary to arrange personal service of the documents.

When the Court seals the Acknowledgement it is returned to the Petitioner’s solicitor so the Petitioner can apply for Decree Nisi. It is generally not necessary for either party to attend Court.

After pronouncement of Decree Nisi the Petitioner must wait at least six weeks and one day before applying for Decree Absolute. It is generally prudent to delay applying for Absolute until finances have been agreed and a legally binding Consent Order is approved by the Court.

Pronouncement of Decree Absolute does not sever the financial claims married spouses have against each other for capital, income and pensions. Dismissal of claims can only be achieved by a Consent Order.

At Parker Bullen, all our Family Solicitors have experience in acting for Petitioners and Respondents in all the divorce options to support the irretrievable breakdown requirement.

We offer a free no obligation initial consultation. Taking legal advice at an early stage can often avoid potential pitfalls and can enable you to resolve matters sooner.

Separation Agreement

In cases where a married couple are not able to commence divorce proceedings immediately or where feel divorce is not the most suitable option or you have not been married for at least a year, you can enter into a Separation Agreement.

This is a written agreement which you both sign, setting out your financial settlement. Unlike a Consent Order, a Separation Agreement is not 100% legally binding as it is not considered by the Court and approved in the same way as a Consent Order. Where a Separation Agreement exists the burden of trying to convince a Court to depart from, it rests with the spouse wishing to challenge and override it.

A Separation Agreement will be given weight by a Court if at the time it was entered into by the parties:-

  • Both had the opportunity to seek independent legal advice;
  • Both had the benefit of financial disclosure concerning the assets in the case;
  • There is no allegation of duress to sign the Agreement; and
  • The Agreement is fair based on the assets at the time.

A Separation Agreement can record the date of separation upon which you agree and provision can be included for either party to Petition for divorce in due course, after the requisite separation period.

We offer a free no obligation initial consultation. Taking legal advice at an early stage can often avoid pitfalls and can enable you to resolve matters sooner.

Your Divorce & Financial Settlements Team

"You have understood our situation from the off and gone up to bat for us, and made the whole thing unspeakably easy"

Salisbury Office

Parker Bullen
45 Castle St,
Salisbury, Wiltshire,
SP1 3SS

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri

8:30am - 5:30pm

Andover Office

Parker Bullen
8 Newbury St,
Andover, Hampshire,
SP10 1DW

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri

8:30am - 5:30pm