I have received an Acknowledgement of Service from my ex-partner – what happens next?
Having filed your divorce petition with the Court what seems like an age ago, you have now received your ex-partner’s “acknowledgement of service” form from the Court. This document sets out your ex-partner’s formal response to your divorce petition. But what should you do next?
You should now apply for the first order in divorce: Decree Nisi. This is not to be confused with Decree Absolute, which is the final order in divorce which brings your marriage to its legal end. Decree Nisi confirms that the person seeking a divorce is entitled to bring the marriage to an end on the basis that all the necessary procedural and legal requirements to obtain a divorce have been met. This means that the petitioner has established one of the grounds for a divorce and that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Why do I need to apply for Decree Nisi?
The Court cannot make Decree Absolute until it has pronounced Decree Nisi, and so you need to apply for Decree Nisi in order to progress the divorce process. Decree Nisi is not only an important stage in the divorce process but it is also of significance when dealing with the financial consequences that flow from a divorce. The Court can only make financial orders once Decree Nisi has been pronounced. This is the case even if you and your ex-partner have reached a financial agreement and are simply asking the Court to approve a Consent Order.
How do I apply for Decree Nisi and what is a Statement in Support of divorce?
To apply for Decree Nisi, you will need to complete and file an application for Decree Nisi (a simple one page form) together with a statement in support of divorce. A statement in support of divorce is not what you might think – it does not run into tens of pages, each page going into more detail than the previous one as to why you should be entitled to a divorce. The statement in support of divorce is an administrative formality.
There are different statement in support of divorce forms depending on the fact upon which your divorce petition is based. For example, if your divorce petition is based on your ex-partner’s behaviour, then you will use a different form to the one used in cases where the divorce petition is based on adultery.
The statement in support of divorce poses a number of questions aimed at ensuring that the contents of your divorce petition remain true and correct and that there have been no changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to rely on the fact specified in your divorce petition (being adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation) to support the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. If your ex-partner signed the acknowledgement of service form, then you will also need to verify his or her signature in your statement in support.
If you ticked the box in the divorce petition to indicate that you wish for your ex-partner to pay your costs associated with the divorce, then it is at this stage that you need to confirm whether or not you intend to proceed with your application for costs.
Although the statement in support of divorce is relatively simple in nature, it is important to get it right. Failing to complete the document properly will result in delay and you might also unintentionally fail to apply for your costs, if this is something you had intended on doing.
I would therefore recommend that you seek the advice of a specialist Family Law solicitor before embarking on divorce proceedings. We can help to navigate you through the process and assist with the administration, including the completion and filing of the various forms. If you would like to make an appointment or have any questions about family law, please contact us.