The new divorce petitions: why you should still consult a family lawyer
The divorce laws, they are a-changin’. From the start of this month, a number of rule changes have been introduced which will affect divorce in the UK.
Known as Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2017, the main change is the introduction of a new divorce petition designed to help litigants-in-person, i.e. those who chose to represent themselves. The new petition forms came in on 7 August 2017, and old-style petitions will not be accepted by courts after Monday 4th September 2017.
DIY or get some advice?
As experienced family lawyers, we welcome the changes to a more user-friendly format and the extensive guidance notes. However, all the guidance notes in the world are no substitute for professional legal advice in completing this life-changing document.
If you would like to discuss a divorce petition, do call us first for an appointment. Our team have extensive experience in divorce processes and procedures, and our involvement at an early stage can help preserve your best interests throughout your divorce.
What is a divorce petition?
The divorce petition is the document that triggers the start of divorce proceedings in England and Wales. (Scotland and Northern Ireland have different rules.) You apply to a court to file for divorce using a divorce petition form. You need to include:
- your full name and address
- your spouse’s full name and address
- your original marriage certificate or a certified copy from a register office
What’s changed in the new divorce rules?
Central to the new petition is the issue of proof when people can’t complete the divorce petition.
If you want to issue a divorce petition, you need a certified copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate. In the past, you could apply without the certificate and undertake to provide it at a later date, if the court gave your permission. The system varied so that some courts required a formal application for this permission, whilst others did not.
However, under the new rules, applicants without a certificate will now have to complete a Notice of Application to request permission from the Court. This incurs a separate fee of £155.
If your name on the petition doesn’t match your married name, or the name on your marriage certificate, you’ll now need to explain why. This can be a bit of a minefield, as any change of name would need to be supported by a change of name deed or statutory declaration. The same applies to your spouse’s name and details.
You need to choose the jurisdiction where your divorce case will be heard. For those with spouses born or living abroad, this is a very important tick box list. Expert advice is required, as there are significant tactical advantages (and pitfalls) to choosing a jurisdiction for divorce. If you have any concerns over this, please call us first.
Statement of truth
You (or your legal representative) are now required to sign a statement of truth. This is a move towards a more accurate representation of the facts, and to prevent statements being made which cannot be attested later.
The new divorce petitions and you
The new style divorce petition has been touted as a way for you to present yourself in your divorce. However, there is so much more to a divorce than just form-filling. You will need to keep your solicitor informed at all times as your divorce proceeds, especially with regards to timings. Copies of all paperwork will need to be provided too. That’s a lot of work, and time commitment at a difficult moment in your personal and family life.
As experienced divorce lawyers, we can help and guide you through the entire divorce process whilst protecting the best interests of you and your family. Our professional advice and services can reduce the stress of divorce considerably, and our competitive rates put our quality legal service within budget.
New divorce petitions at LGFL Ltd
We’re already using the new divorce petition forms here at our family law firm in Swallowfield Reading, so we are familiar with the new layout and terminology, etc.
If you are struggling to understand the implications of divorce and self-representation, do call us for a free 30-minute consultation. We’ll be happy to help and advise on all aspects of divorce, to help you achieve the best outcome for you and your family.
Please note that direct assistance with completing your divorce petition form is not included in a free 30 minute consultation.