Everything you need to know about a Matrimonial Order (formally called a Divorce Petition) 

11th December 2019
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Starting the Matrimonial Order Process

If you are seeking a divorce, you must make an application for a Matrimonial Order to the Court. Only one person needs to apply for a divorce. If you apply for the divorce, you are called the Applicant. The other person, against whom the divorce is made, is called the Respondent.

There is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be proven in one of five ways.

5 Grounds for Divorce

1. Your spouse has committed adultery.
2. Your spouse has behaved in such a way, that it is unreasonable to expect you to continue to live with them.
3. You have lived apart for a continuous period of 2 years and your spouse consents to the divorce.
4. You have lived apart for a continuous period of 5 years (whether or not your spouse consents to the divorce).
5. Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years.

You must send to the Court:
–        Application for a Matrimonial Order (divorce application);
–        Marriage Certificate (either original or a certified copy);
–        Fee of £550.

The Court will seal your application and commence proceedings, opening a file at court. You will receive your application back from the Court, sealed, confirming your case number with the court.

Once the proceedings have commenced, the other person needs to be made aware of the proceedings within 7 days. They can either agree or oppose the application for a divorce. If they consent, they must sign and send an Acknowledgment of Service, confirming their agreement to the divorce.

What is a Decree Nisi and how do I apply for one?

The applicant can then apply to the Court for a Decree Nisi, confirming that both parties agree to a divorce.

The Decree Nisi will be read out in Court. There will be no need to attend the hearing unless the Court has indicated that you should do so, because there is a dispute over who should pay the cost of the divorce.

Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute – What is the difference?

The Decree Nisi confirms that the grounds for a divorce have been met. It does NOT end the marriage. The Decree Absolute ends the marriage.

The applicant may apply for a Decree Absolute, 6 clear weeks (i.e. 6 weeks and one day) after the Decree Nisi is pronounced in Court. You do not have to inform the other party that you are applying for the Decree Absolute. The respondent may apply for a Decree Absolute, three months after the applicant, (i.e. 6 weeks and three month) after the Decree Nisi is pronounced in Court.

If 12 months passes, after the Decree Nisi is pronounced in Court, then the person applying for the Decree Absolute must provide a written explanation, giving good reasons, for the delay in applying. They must clearly state whether the parties have lived with each other within this timeframe.

If the court is satisfied that:
–        There has been no appeal from the other party (disputing the divorce); and
–         the correct time frame has passed,

then the Decree Absolute will be granted.

A certificate confirming this will be sent to both parties. Once the Decree Absolute is granted, then the marriage comes to an end. Parties are free to remarry or form a civil partnership.

If you would like any more information about the process of a Matrimonial Order, or for any family services, please contact us.