I HAVE RECEIVED A DIVORCE PETITION, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Whether the separation between you and your ex-partner is amicable, receiving a divorce petition can be very distressing and frightening.
This article will address the initial steps that you should take on receiving a divorce petition
1. You have received a draft divorce petition.
If your spouse has a solicitor, then pursuant to the Family Law Protocol you should have received a draft petition for consideration at least 7 days in advance of proceedings being commenced. This will allow you the opportunity, to suggest changes to the petition so that the petition that is eventually filed with the Court is done so on an agreed basis, you may also use this time to seek legal advice from a family law specialist
2. Read through the Petition, are the contents correct?
The petition itself is relatively straightforward. Although you should pay attention to minor details i.e. dates of birth, place of residence, please also read part 6 of the petition carefully (Statements of Case). Ask yourself if you agree with the contents contained therein.
If you do not agree with the ‘Statements of Case’ and feel the allegations are unjust and do not reflect the reality of the situation you could write to your spouse or their solicitor (if instructed) with your proposed amendments. Your ex-partner may agree to the amendments and the petition can be filed with the Court on an agreed basis.
3. What is an Acknowledgement of Service?
When you are served with a divorce petition, you should also receive from the Court an ‘Acknowledgment of Service’. This is a relatively straightforward document and asks you to confirm, for example:
- A) Have you received the petition?
- B) On what date and to what address did you receive the petition?
- C) Do you agree with the jurisdiction for divorce?
- D) Are you intending to defend the divorce?
- E) Do you agree to meet your spouse’s costs?
If you are going to defend the divorce, then within 8 days of receiving the petition you should file with the Court the Acknowledgement of Service, indicating your intention to do so. You then have a further 21 days to file an ‘Answer’.
Defending a petition has adverse cost consequences for both parties and in reality it simply delays the inevitable. We generally advise clients not to defend the petition, but this depends on the circumstances of the case.
You should be aware that the petition itself will have no future bearing on the other aspects of your case i.e. finances. In financial proceedings, for conduct to be taken into account.
4. Next Steps
If you have received a petition and would like specialist matrimonial advise then please do not hesitate to contact AS Solicitors on 020 8318 4345.