What happens if I want a divorce, but my partner doesn’t?

Unfriendly divorce situation. After the court receives the divorce petition, they will send a copy to the non-petitioning spouse. They will have 8 days in which to respond, stating whether they wish to contest the divorce or not.

If the responding spouse wishes to defend the divorce, they will then have a further 21 days to explain why they wish to do so.

If the divorce is defended, both spouses will usually need to attend a court hearing in front of a judge, unless a private agreement can be reached between the couple before the assigned hearing date.

The judge will then hear evidence from both sides and make a decision as to whether to grant the divorce or not. If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, you may be able to make an appeal to a higher court, depending on the circumstances.

If the judge decides to grant the divorce – They will issue a document known as a “decree nisi”. This officially states that the court sees no reason why the divorce cannot go ahead.

If the judge decides not to grant the divorce – The petitioning spouse will either need to accept this, appeal the decision to a higher court, or apply again with a fresh divorce petition.

Unfriendly divorce situation, the new petition will need to give stronger reasons for the divorce. In the worst case scenario, this will mean waiting until the couple have been separated for at least 5 years, at which point either spouse can apply for and be granted a divorce without the other’s consent.

Once the decree nisi has been issued, you will need to wait at least 43 days and you can then apply to the court for a decree absolute. This is the final legal document that confirms your marriage is officially over.

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