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FAQs

From the list below choose one of our FAQs topics, then select an FAQ to read. If you have a question which is not in this section, please contact us.
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What documents do I have to file with my Form E?

Financial disclosure is  achieved by  simultaneously exchanging a document called Form E.  This must be done at least 35 days before the First Appointment.  Whether disclosure is made during amicable and voluntary negotiations or as part of the Court process, the sort of information that has to be disclosed is as follows (although this list is not exhaustive).

What are periodical payments?

This is a payment made out of income by one spouse to provide for the other and frequently is called maintenance. It is payable by reference to a period and very often is a monthly payment. A spousal maintenance Order can be open-ended or can be limited in duration. If the party receiving the maintenance remarries (or enters into a registered civil partnership for a same sex couple) or dies it automatically ceases. It is an ongoing continuing obligation and therefore there is not a “clean break” (see later) if maintenance payments are being made under an order. It can be varied (either as to the amount payable or the duration of it) in the future if the financial or other circumstances of one or both parties change significantly. On an application for variation the Court has power to fix a lump sum and order the payer to pay it as capitalised maintenance and terminate the periodical payment order. The maintenance payments can be “secured" against an asset of the party making the payments although these types of Orders (thus known as secured periodical payments orders) are rare.

What if the respondent does not return the acknowledgement of service form?

You would need to request the court to allow the court bailiff to personally serve the divorce documents on the respondent. The court bailiff would then swear an affidavit confirming service, should the respondent still not respond you proceed to the next stage, the application for special procedure whereby you would use the sworn affidavit as an exhibit. You will have to pay the court a fixed fee for this service.

After service you must allow 29 days for the respondent to file a defence (called an ‘answer’ in divorce proceedings) and, if they do not, you can then apply for the decree nisi (the first divorce decree).

What if the petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute, can the respondent apply?

Yes, providing 3 months have elapsed and the parties have not reconciled.

If the Petitioner resides in England and Wales and the Respondent abroad; can they still divorce?

Yes, provided one party is either domiciled or habitually resident (for a year) in England and Wales.

What if my spouse does not wish to divorce and says they will defend it?

In English Law, everyone has a right to defend any action brought against him/her in the court. Defended divorces are relatively rare because they are (a) unlikely to bring the marriage together again and (b) most importantly are very expensive with the loser paying the other party’s costs. Usually, once a petition is issued at court, the other party (with good solid advice) will not defend it.

What if I don't know the other parties address?

Attempt to find out from family & friends. Alternatively, a tracing agent may be able to trace the party’s whereabouts.

What are the grounds for a divorce?

Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is the only grounds for divorce. You must prove irretrievable breakdown in one of five different ways. These are: 
- adultery
- unreasonable behavior (often described as cruelty)
- desertion for two years
- separation for two years where the other party consents
- separation for five years (no consent needed)

Using grounds of separation by consent, do I have to get my spouse's consent before I divorce

No, your spouse will be given an opportunity to consent on the acknowledgement form when he/she receives the papers from the court.

If I have been separated for 2 years am I automatically entitled to a divorce?

No, you would need the other parties consent, alternatively you could rely on the fact of unreasonable behavior or 5 years Separation whereby consent is not required.

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