Before a divorce can begin in the UK, the party initiating the process will have to fill in a divorce petition form – a D8 – perhaps with the assistance of their divorce lawyer. This must include the petitioner’s full name and address, the full name and address of their spouse, the names and birth dates of any children, and their original marriage certificate.
The divorce petition must also detail the grounds under which the divorce is being sought – the reasons, or “facts” which support the claim. If adultery is the main reason, the petitioner can include the name of the person with whom their spouse has been unfaithful, and they will also receive copies of any paperwork.
Filing a divorce petition costs £410 although discounts are available for those on benefits and low incomes. Once they are complete, three copies need to be sent to a divorce court – and in the case of couples with children, three copies of the statement of arrangements for children (form D8A).
Once the petition is received by the court, it will send a copy of the form to the spouse being divorced, plus a ‘notice of proceedings’ (form D8) and ‘acknowledgement of service’ (form D10). In the latter case they need to fill this in and return it within eight days. Once these are sent out by the court, it will send the original petitioner a ‘notice of issue of petition’ (form D9H), which confirms the date they were sent.
Upon receipt of a divorce petition, the husband or wife can either agree to the divorce, or they can contest it, known legally as “defending” the divorce. Their response is delivered when they return their portion of form D10.
I have received a divorce petition, what should I do?
As mentioned above, this depends upon whether or not you agree to the divorce. In the vast majority of cases, the split has been agreed beforehand, so there should be nothing in the petition to contest. Keep hold of the ‘notice of proceedings’ (form D8) you receive and complete the form D10, the ‘acknowledgement of service’, before returning it to the court within eight days.
If you wish to contest, or ‘defend’ the divorce, then seek the advice of a good divorce lawyer as soon as possible. They may suggest trying to reach agreement with your spouse outside the courts – for instance by resubmitting an amended divorce petition.