Getting Divorced

Practical information on how to get divorced, steps in the divorce process, grounds and the divorce petition

Getting divorced is a stressful time for couples. At MyLawyer we aim to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible by guiding couples through the required documents and forms.

Before you can apply to get divorced, you must have been married for at least one year.There are generally three steps in the divorce process.

The first step is for the 'petitioner' (the person starting the divorce) to complete a divorce petition, 'Divorce/judicial separation petition (Form D8)'. This must be sent to the Regional Divorce Centre (DC) for your area.. The petitioner's spouse is known as the 'respondent'.

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In the divorce petition you will need to give the reasons why you want to end the marriage. Although commonly referred to as 'grounds for divorce', by law there is only one 'ground' on which you can end your marriage and that is that the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. This means that there is no possibility that you will reconcile with your spouse.

To show the court that this is true of your marriage, you will need to provide details to support the existence of any one of the following (referred to as the 'facts of divorce'):

1. Adultery (only available if this was committed with a person of the opposite sex)

2. Unreasonable behaviour

3. Desertion

4. Living separately for at least two years and your spouse consents to the divorce

5. Living separately for at least five years

Once the court has received your divorce petition, it will send a copy to your spouse, together with an 'Acknowledgement of service (Form D10)'. Your spouse will be required to complete this form and return it to the court within seven business days. In this form, your spouse will state whether they agree to the divorce or wish to argue against it (defend it).

If your spouse agrees that you may get the divorce (i.e. does not defend it), the next step will be to complete an 'Application for a decree nisi (Form D84)', together with an 'Statement in support of divorce '. There are five different statements in support of divorce and you will need to complete the one relating to the reason for your divorce. The statements are as follows:

  • Statement in support of divorce - adultery (Form D80A)
  • Statement in support of divorce - unreasonable behaviour (Form D80B)
  • Statement in support of divorce - desertion (Form D80C)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 2 years' consent (Form D80D)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 5 years' separation (Form D80E)

If the court is satisfied that there are grounds for divorce, it will send you and your spouse a 'Certificate of entitlement to a decree', which will tell you the date and time when the judge will grant your 'decree nisi'. However, you do not have to attend court in person.

After decree nisi has been granted, and assuming you and your spouse are agreed on all the financial matters between you, you will be ready to take the last step.

It is always better to get a financial order from the court, even if you and your spouse have agreed the financial issues between you, before you take the final step in the divorce process.

The final step is to get your 'decree absolute' which officially brings the marriage to an end. To apply for a decree absolute, you will need to complete a 'Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute (Form D36)' and send it to the court six weeks after the date that your decree nisi was pronounced.