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A divorce petition is sent to the court, or completed online via gov.uk with a form setting out the arrangements for the children, where appropriate. Sometimes this form is agreed between you before proceedings are issued. The arrangements are not binding on you and, if there is any dispute between you, not resolved in mediation, it is open to either of you to make an application under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for orders for residence, contact, prohibited steps or specific issue orders.

Once the divorce petition, the statement of arrangements for the children, the original marriage certificate, the fee and the correct number of copies have been sent, the petitioner receives a note of the court number and the documents are served on the respondent by post. The respondent receives an acknowledgement of service form which they need to complete and return.

The court will forward a copy of the acknowledgement of service form to the petitioner once it is received, and the petitioner will then complete a standard form affidavit in support of the
petition.

This, once sworn, is lodged together with a form requesting directions for trial. The papers at this stage are placed before a District Judge who will certify whether or not the decree
can be granted.

If it can, then the court will list a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi and inform you of the date. It is not necessary for any attendance on the date of the decree nisi, and a few days after a copy of the decree will be sent to you. Six weeks and one day after the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree to be made absolute. This is done by way of form with the appropriate court fee. It is an administrative act and is usually sent back by the court within days of the application.

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