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Expert Divorce Assistance with our Family Law Solicitors in Cheshire

A couple must have been married for at least one year before divorce proceedings can be started.

An application can be made by one spouse (a sole application) or by the couple together (a joint application).

Eligibility for Divorce Proceedings

To be eligible to start divorce proceedings in England and Wales, the applicant(s) must meet at least one of the jurisdictional criteria, which are based on the habitual residence or domicile of one or both parties to the marriage. Habitual residence is difficult to define but is usually where someone lives most of the time and where they have their “centre of interests”. Domicile is also difficult to define but, generally, a person is domiciled in a country if they consider their permanent home is there, even though they live in another country.

There is only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

How to Start Divorce Proceedings

Once the sole application is finalised, it is submitted to the court online, together with an image of your marriage certificate and the court fee. A statement of truth is included in the application, which confirms that you attest that the contents are true and that you understand you could be held in contempt of court if in fact something is not true, and you knew it was not true when you gave the statement of truth. The court then issues the application which starts the divorce proceedings.

The issued application and other documents produced by the court are then served on your spouse or their solicitors. Service means the documents are sent by a method permitted by court rules. The documents must be served within 28 days after the application is issued by the court.

Your spouse or their solicitors should then complete and submit to the court a document called the acknowledgement of service within 14 days. They can do this online. In the acknowledgement of service, your spouse acknowledges receipt of the application.

Disputing the Divorce

It is possible for a respondent to dispute the divorce, but on very limited grounds, such as the validity of the marriage. If your spouse disputes the proceedings, there will be court hearings to decide whether or not the divorce proceedings can continue or whether they should be dismissed.

Divorce Order Process

A divorce order is made in two stages. Provided your spouse is not disputing the proceedings, 20 weeks after the divorce application was issued, you can apply for the first stage of the divorce order, called the conditional order. In the application for the conditional order, you must confirm that you wish to proceed with the divorce, and that everything in the divorce application remains unchanged or, if not, what has changed.

Once six weeks (and one day) have passed from the day the conditional order was made, you can apply for the final divorce order. This brings your marriage to an end, and you are then formally divorced. However, you should not apply for the final divorce order until any application for financial orders has been resolved or agreement has been reached about financial matters and the agreement has been made into a court order.

If you do not apply for the final order, your spouse could apply, but only after three months from the first day you could have applied.

Financial Remedy Proceedings

The financial side of your divorce is treated as separate proceedings, and is often referred to as ‘Financial Remedy’ proceedings.

Divorce Financial Settlement

If you and your spouse can agree on the financial split then we can draft a consent order for the Court to approve which sets out your agreement. Full details of your financial situation will also need to be provided to your spouse and the Court.

However, if you are unable to agree a settlement, we may have to issue proceedings at Court for a Judge to decide.