I Have Received a Divorce Petition - Now What?


So, your partner has served you with a divorce petition. You may have known it was coming, or you may have been unaware. It can be an extremely stressful and confusing time and you'll need advice as to what to do next.

I Have Received a Divorce Petition - Now What?

The first thing you should do is read through the divorce petition. Make sure that things like the names, dates of birth, addresses etc. are all correct. Most importantly, you should look at Parts 5 and 6 of the divorce petition, 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 your petition and seek to challenge it you can defend the petition. This would in the first instance involve noting your intention to defend the petition on the 'Acknowledgment of Service' document which asks you to confirm the particulars of the petition and return it to the court. We would suggest you instruct a solicitor at this point to advise you on the costs implications of defending the petition and the merits of success.

Similarly, if you do not wish to defend the petition, and agree that it should proceed, we would advise you to contact us as there are a number of issues such as child arrangements, maintenance and financial discussions that need to take place. We would not advise you to go into these discussions without seeking legal advice first to ensure that you get a fair deal.

Who Ends Up Paying 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 acknowledgement of service to the Court you are confirming you have received the petition.

Whether you agree to contribute to the petitioner’s costs or not, we would advise you to write to your spouse or their solicitor for them to confirm their costs so you can get a grasp on how much they may come to. Alternatively, you may decide that you don’t agree with what's in the petition and object to paying their costs. If this is the case, you should make it clear on the Acknowledgment of Service document.

Your solicitor will be able to draft an appropriate response if you decide to not pay the costs of the other side.

Does Everything Get Split 50/50?

Financial disputes in divorce are not uncommon and often arise when couples have property or assets they have 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 assets with your ex-spouse.

The court might become involved in the family finances if there is dispute and one party makes a court application to sort out the money. The court will try to split things as fairly as possible to meet the needs of both parties and the children and you will 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.

This is just a brief overview of the things you should do if you receive a divorce petition from your partner. As soon as you get it, the best advice we could give is to contact a solicitor and in particular, the Family Law Team at Simpson Millar LLP, where clear priced fixed fees are available every step of the process.

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