A divorce application is sent to the Family Court’s Divorce and Dissolution service on Form D84. The application can be signed by one spouse or civil partner (a sole application) or by both parties (a joint application). The application form contains personal details of the parties to the marriage or civil partnership and states that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
If the parties have legal representation then the solicitor lodging the application form should also include a ‘statement of reconciliation’ confirming that he or she has discussed the possibility of a reconciliation with the applicant(s) and given him or her the names and addresses of persons qualified to help facilitate a reconciliation.
The applicant decides whether the court is to post or email the application out to the other spouse (the ‘respondent’) or whether he or she will arrange for the respondent to receive it. This is called “service”. In a joint application there is no need to serve the application in each other but under the procedural rules each side should receive a notice of proceedings
The respondent must confirm receipt of the application by completing an acknowledgment of service form (this should accompany the application paperwork). He or she must return the acknowledgment of service form to the court within 14 days of the date of service. Different time limits apply if the application for divorce has to be served on a respondent outside of England and Wales.
If a respondent wishes to dispute the application for divorce he or she needs to file and serve an ‘answer’ to the application within 21 days beginning from when the acknowledgment of service was required. The application may only be disputed on specific and limited grounds, including procedural non-compliance, validity of the marriage or partnership and issues over the English court’s jurisdiction or power to rule on the divorce application.
If the respondent does not send the acknowledgement of service, and the court is satisfied that the respondent has nevertheless received the application, the court may make a ruling that the application is deemed to be served. This enables the applicant to proceed with the next steps in an application for a divorce or dissolution order.
Or call us: +44 (0)20 7430 8470