How to Respond to a Divorce Petition

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After receiving a divorce petition, the first thing you should do is read through it thoroughly to make sure that details like names, dates of birth and addresses are all correct.

Most importantly, you should look at Parts 5 and 6 of the divorce petition form, this is where 'The Facts' and the 'Statements of Case' are noted. Parts 5 and 6 are extremely important as they will specify why your spouse wants a divorce and what allegations, if any, he or she is bringing against you.

If you don't agree with what's contained in this part of the divorce petition and you want to contest it, you can defend the petition. This would in the first instance involve stating that you plan to defend the petition on the Acknowledgment of Service document, which asks you to confirm the particulars of the divorce petition and return it to the Court.

Challenging or defending any divorce in England and Wales can be very expensive, so it’s best to speak with a Divorce Solicitor to advise you on how much it will cost to defend your divorce, and get legal advice on whether or not defending your divorce is likely to be successful.

For initial legal advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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99% of Divorce Cases are Not Defended*

If you don’t want to defend the divorce petition and agree that it should proceed, we advise you to speak with a Divorce Solicitor as there are several issues to deal with, such as child custody and living arrangements, child maintenance and divorce financial discussions that need to take place. We wouldn’t advise you to go into these discussions without getting legal advice first to ensure that you know what your options are.

Who Pays for the Divorce?

It's common for the spouse that sent the divorce petition (the petitioner) to claim their costs back from the person receiving it (the respondent). By returning the Acknowledgment of Service to the Court, you’re confirming that you’ve received the petition.

Whether or not you agree to contribute to the petitioner’s costs, we advise you to write to your spouse or their Divorce Solicitor for them to confirm their costs so you see how much the divorce will cost.

Alternatively, you may decide that you don’t agree with what's in the divorce petition and object to paying their costs. If this is the case, you should make it clear on the Acknowledgment of Service document. Your Divorce Solicitor can draft an appropriate response if you decide to not pay the costs of the other side.

Divorce Financial Disputes

Financial disputes in divorce aren’t uncommon and often occur when couples have property or assets that they’ve saved up together. Financial proceedings are considered separately from the divorce proceedings, so there's nothing stopping you from starting the discussion on how you'll want to split your money and assets with your ex-spouse.

Mediation is a good option if you want to try to resolve divorce financial matters amicably, but if this fails, the Court may have to become involved. The Court will try to split everything as fairly as possible to meet the needs of both parties and any children you may have. You’ll both be expected to be as honest as you can when it comes to disclosing your financial situation prior to and at the time of divorce.

If you think your spouse is hiding something financially, then it’s best to discuss this with your Solicitor so the financial settlement between the two of you can be as honest and fair as possible.

Divorce Financial Order

Once you become divorced the financial obligations and commitments between you and your ex-spouse will remain unchanged. To cut the financial ties between you and your ex, a Financial Order from the Court is required.

For more information see Divorce Financial Orders and Financial Settlements.

*Source: Liz Trinder, Professor of Socio-legal Studies at the University of Exeter Law School. See No Contest: Defended Divorce in England & Wales.

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