If done correctly, divorces are usually straight forward and can be administered at arm’s length rarely requiring the parties’ attendance at court. Once a divorce petition is drafted and signed, it is then forwarded to the court with the fee and marriage certificate. The court will then ‘issue’ the documents (i.e. place the court seal on the documents and open the court file which will begin the process) and will send them to the respondent along with a document called an acknowledgement of service.
The acknowledgement of service must be completed and sent to the court within a narrow time frame indicating whether or not the respondent wishes to defend the petition. If there is no defence then once the Court receives the Acknowledgment of Service, this is then forwarded to the Petitioner with an ‘Application for Divorce’ together with a statement in support confirming that everything said within the Petition is true. Once completed and sent to the court, the Court file will be presented to a judge who if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to grant the divorce will grant a ‘certificate of entitlement of Decree Nisi’ setting out the date that the decree nisi will be pronounced.
A decree nisi is a ‘conditional divorce’ which can only be finalised 6 weeks and one day after the decree nisi has been granted. This finalisation process is called decree absolute.