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27 May 2012

A step-by-step guide to completing a Divorce Petition

Mahie Abey, Family Solicitor
If you are the person initiating the divorce, known as ‘the Petitioner’, you will have to fill in and either take or post to your local Court a completed Divorce Petition. 

The form itself (a new version was introduced in November 2014: check it says 'Divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation petition (11.14)' in the bottom left corner of the first page) is really helpful as are the Supporting notes for guidance - and what follows is in part at least a repetition of instructions on both those documents. It is really not very hard.

Download a Divorce Petition form (called ‘D8’) and the Supporting notes for guidance from the Court Service website. (You might be able to pick one up from your local County Court, but many have shut their counter service now.)

Remember you are the Petitioner and your ex-partner is the Respondent.

Page 1

1.1       Insert your name here

1.2       Tick both the divorce box and the marriage boxes

Page 2

Part 1 – About you

1.3       Complete both these sections - you will be able to do so easily. 

Part 2 – Details of the marriage

This section is technically tricky (it is one of only two difficult bits on the form). You will need your marriage certificate in front of you to complete it.

2.1       Insert the date of the marriage

2.2       Insert your name exactly as it appears on the marriage certificate (for women that is likely to be your maiden name)

2.3       Tick ‘married’.

2.4       Insert your ex-partners name in the section marked for the Respondent – again, exactly as it appears upon the marriage certificate

2.5       Insert the place of the marriage exactly as it appears on the marriage certificate. This is vital. Copy it exactly including typographical errors if there are any. If you don’t exactly replicate what’s on your marriage certificate the Court will reject it.

Page 3

Part 3 – Jurisdiction

This jurisdiction section is here to ensure that the Court has the power to grant your divorce.

3.1       Tick the spouses box

3.2       Insert the last address you lived at together (this could be where you are both still living)

You now need to specify the grounds on which the Court has jurisdiction to deal with your divorce.

I am not going to try to explain in full what all the various options mean - as they are complicated and in most cases won’t be relevant. (If you are unsure here, and need help, look at the  Supporting notes for guidance  which are very good.)

The best thing here is to just deal with the questions!

There are basically 3 options here, one of which you need to choose:

Option 1

If, as is most likely, you and your ex both live in England or Wales, and have done so for some time, then:

3.3       Tick the box beginning 'Article 3(1)

3.4       Tick the box beginning ‘The Petitioner and the Respondent….’

If this isn’t the case, two legal definitions to help you choose which of Option 2 or Option 3 to select are:

‘habitually resident’ - this is where you live

‘domicile’ - this means that your main connection is with England and Wales, and you still consider it to be your home: it is a quite nebulous concept.

Option 2

3.5       Tick the box beginning 'Article 3(1)

3.6       Tick the box beginning ‘Other..'

3.7       In the box below, enter whichever of the following sentences applies:

  • The Petitioner is and Respondent were last habitually resident in England and Wales and the Petitioner or Respondent [delete as applicable] still resides there.
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales
  • The Petitioner is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least a year immediately prior to the presentation of the Petition.
  • The Petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least 6 months immediately prior to the Petition

Option 3

The third option applies if you live outside of the EU but one (or both) of you is domiciled in England and Wales.

3.8       In that case, tick the box starting 'The court has jurisdiction other than ..'.

3.9      Tick either, or both, of these boxes as appropriate to which of you is domiciled in England and Wales

Page 4

Part 4 – Other Proceedings

If there have been other proceedings in any Court in England or Wales or elsewhere: 

4.1       Tick the first box

4.2       Tick the second box

4.3       Tick which of the four options applies

4.4       Insert the details including the Court, case number and type of case future hearings here (see the  Supporting notes for guidance  which are very helpful on what exactly you should say here)

If there haven’t been other proceedings in any Court in England or Wales or elsewhere:

4.5       Tick the first box

4.6       Tick the box saying ‘no other proceedings….’

If the petition is on 5 years separation you have to complete the next part of part 4 (which appears entirely unrelated to the rest of the section but ho hum).

4.7       Tick the box saying ‘this is an application….’

4.8       Then tick which of the options applies.

By far the easiest is to tick ‘no agreement has been made….’

(This is likely to apply as you are unlikely to have resolved all issues by this point anyway. I don’t consider much turns on this in the vast majority of cases.)

4.9       If you have reached an agreement then list it here

 Part 5 – The facts

5.1       Tick the box beginning ‘divorce on the ground that…..’

5.2       Tick whichever of the five facts applies. It doesn’t make sense for me to go into detail here – a useful explanation of the divorce facts is available in the Intelligent Divorce Guide to the Divorce Process

Page 5

Part 6 – Statement of case

At this point the Supporting notes for guidance are only partly helpful so this is what you should do here. 

Give the reasons behind whichever of the five facts you have chosen in Part 5 – The facts to rely on as the basis of your divorce.

If you’ve ticked adultery: Don’t name the person with whom your spouse has committed adultery. It unnecessarily complicates things. Say the date and place where the adultery took place and how you discovered it and when.

If you’ve ticked unreasonable behaviour: List six instances of behaviour including the most recent. They do not have to be nasty.

You might find it easier to choose them from the list below:

·        The Respondent on numerous occasions has stated that [he/she] does not love the Petitioner anymore, which has caused the Petitioner distress.  
·        The Respondent has consistently shown little or no interest in socialising with the Petitioner or [his/her] friends and has made no effort to do so.
·        The Respondent has regularly belittled the Petitioner, both in private and on occasions in public, causing the Petitioner to lose self-esteem.
·        The Respondent is often selfish in the way [he/she] behaves and has in recent times not prioritised the parties’ relationship in any way.
·        The Respondent does not sleep in the same bed as the Petitioner, and has not done so since [insert date], causing the Petitioner distress.
·        The parties have not had a sexual relationship since [insert date], which has been caused by the Respondent’s behaviour and distressed the Petitioner.
·        The Petitioner believes that the Respondent has formed a relationship with another [man/woman], which has caused the Petitioner distress.
·        The Respondent moved out of the matrimonial home on [insert date] saying that [he/she] could no longer live with the Petitioner and that the marriage was over, which caused the Petitioner obvious distress.
·        The Petitioner moved out of the matrimonial home on [insert date] as a result of the behaviour of the Respondent, believing that there was no future in the marriage and that the Respondent’s behaviour would not change.
·        The Respondent has a bad temper which [he/she] has lost on numerous occasions causing the Petitioner to be scared.
·        The parties have argued over money issues for some time. These arguments have been fuelled by the Respondent’s attitude and behaviour.
·        The Respondent has been verbally abusive towards the Petitioner on numerous occasions causing the Petitioner distress.
·        The Respondent has always disliked the Petitioner’s family, which has led to the Petitioner feeling isolated from them and thus causing [him/her] distress.
·        The Respondent has always had too close a relationship to [his/her] own family making the Petitioner feel isolated.
·        The Respondent has never liked the Petitioner’s family despite the Petitioner’s best efforts and has never socialised with them as much as the Petitioner has requested, causing the Petitioner distress.
·        The Respondent has failed to look after [himself/herself] physically despite the Petitioner’s requests to the contrary.
·        The Respondent has consistently refused to assist around the house, leaving all such matters to the Petitioner, despite regular requests to the contrary.
·        The Respondent often drinks excessively, in the view of the Petitioner, which causes [him/her] to behave in an [irresponsible/aggressive/unpleasant] manner, causing the Petitioner distress.
·        The Respondent is a very jealous person who regularly checks the Petitioner’s [movements/friends/telephone calls/text messages], which makes the Petitioner feel constantly ill at ease and unnecessarily monitored
·        The Respondent makes most of the decisions in the parties’ lives without consulting the Petitioner enough or at all. This makes the Petitioner feel as if [he/she] is being constantly pressured into doing things [he/she] does not want to.
·        The Respondent is obsessive in [his/her] habits and is constantly critical if the Petitioner does not meet [his/her] perceived high standards, which the Petitioner is unable to tolerate any longer.
·        The Respondent, in the Petitioner’s view, is unnecessarily mean with money and keeps a very tight control over the family finances, treating the Petitioner as a paid employee rather than a spouse.
·        The Respondent has always gone out with[his/her] [male/female] friends regularly, to the exclusion of the Petitioner, causing [him/her] distress.
·        The Respondent’s behaviour has been very erratic over the recent past, with regular mood shifts and unprovoked anger, which has led to the Petitioner feeling uneasy in the relationship.
·        The Respondent is obsessed by [fill in the relevant hobby/interest] and spends most of [his/her] free time in this pursuit to the exclusion of the family.
·        The Respondent works very long hours and does not find time to spend with the Petitioner and the family, which has caused the Petitioner to feel no longer part of the Respondent’s life.
·        The Respondent’s [insert behaviour] which has caused the Petitioner [insert the effect it has had on you].

If you’ve ticked two years’ separation:  List the date of separation and that one of other of you left the family home, or that you stopped living in the same household (rather than the reasons behind it). State also that your spouse consents to the divorce.

If you’ve ticked five years’ separation: List the date of separation and that one of other of you left the family home, or that you stopped living in the same household (rather than the reasons behind it).

Part 7 – Details of children

7.1       ‘Children of the family’ are defined as those:
• born to you and your ex-partner
• adopted by you and your ex-partner
• treated by both of you as children of the family (for example your own or your ex-partner's children from previous relationships)

You should be able to enter these details pretty easily.

(Note that in the old version of the Divorce Petition there used to be a reference in this section to another form called the Statement of Arrangements for Children - this form is no longer in use, which is why it is not referred to here anymore.) 

Page 6

Part 8 - Special assistance

8.1      Tick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

8.2       If you’ve ticked ‘Yes’ give details here

Part 9 - Service details

9.1       Tick the first box (if this isn’t true, you really should have no need of this blog!)

9.2       Leave Box 1 blank

9.3       Insert your address and postcode in Box 2

Page 7

Part 9 - Service details (cont'd)

 9.4       Insert your spouse’s address and postcode in Box 3

9.5       Assuming you have followed my advice, and haven’t been foolish enough to name a Co-Respondent in an adultery petition (the only type to which this question applies) then tick here

9.6       If you have named a Co-respondent, tick here and then give their name and address details.

Page 8

Part 10 – Prayer

An odd title – in essence it is what you’re asking the Court to do.

10.1     Tick the first two boxes under ‘The application..’

10.2     Tick the first two boxes under ‘Costs’ if you are asking your spouse to pay the costs of the divorce.

Otherwise, leave this section blank.

You’ll need to discuss and agree with your ex as to who will pay the costs: the  Intelligent Divorce Guide to the Divorce Process is helpful on this.

Financial order

This part is technically difficult. What you do by ticking these boxes is to give the Court the power to make a financial order on your divorce.

However, you are not actually making an application for them to do so.

The example I give to clients is that you are unlocking the door but not actually opening it. You need to do something else to achieve that (which I will talk about later). Therefore:

10.3     Tick the first box in 3a and all the other boxes

10.4          If you have children tick the first box in 3b and all the other boxes.
If you don’t have children, leave this section blank.

10.5          Sign the box here.

10.6          Then date it.

10.7          Cross out ‘[’s solicitor]’

Then you’re done!

I show you what to do with the Divorce Petition here

(Of course if you use Intelligent Divorce to help you agree your finances, we'll handle all your divorce paperwork free of charge - so we'll do the Divorce Petition for you!) 

Have a look at our other illustrated practical guides to the divorce process and sorting out your finances.