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I’ve received Divorce Papers and an Acknowledgement of Service – what happens next?

Published on 29 April 2021 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
Congleton signing documents

Whether it is expected or not, receiving Divorce Papers can be a stressful situation. The ‘Divorce Petition’ marks the beginning of the divorce, if you receive one, it is up to you to take the next step. Ignoring the Petition won’t make it go away, the sooner you decide on a course of action the easier it will be. 

As the receiver of the Divorce Petition you will be known as the ‘Respondent’ throughout the divorce proceedings, while your spouse will be known as the ‘Petitioner’. 

The Respondent is given 7 days to complete and return the Acknowledgment of Service to the Court. The Acknowledgment asks a series of questions that will need answering accurately, if you do not feel confident in answering these questions yourself, in order to protect your position in the divorce proceedings, it would be beneficial to seek legal advice.  

These questions include: 

  • Have you received the Divorce Petition?
  • Are there any Court proceedings in any countries outside England and Wales relating to the marriage that are capable of affecting its validity or subsistence? If so, please provide details.
  • In which country are you habitually resident, where are you domiciled and of which country are you a national?
  • Do you agree with the ground for jurisdiction set out in the Petition? If not, please state why you disagree.
  • On which date and at which address did you receive the Petition?
  • Are you the person named as the Respondent in the Petition?
  • Do you intend to defend the case?
  • Even if you do not intend to defend the case, do you object to paying the cost of the proceedings? If so, on what grounds?

Upon completing the Acknowledgement of Service the Respondent has a couple of options: 

  1. Acknowledge the divorce so it proceeds.

If the Acknowledgement is completed to confirm that you are content with the divorce proceeding, and you do not intend to defend the divorce, your spouse can apply for the first decree in the proceedings, known as ‘Decree Nisi’. 

  1. Defend the divorce.

If you disagree with the divorce you must complete the Acknowledgement confirming you intend to defend the divorce. You will then need to complete a Form D8B outlining why you disagree with the divorce, within 21 days of filing the Acknowledgement.  

In defending the divorce a further Court fee will be payable and the Court will list the matter for a hearing. 

If you agree to the divorce, but not the reason for divorce, you should not defend the divorce. If your spouse has filed for divorce on the fact of behaviour, then you can simply complete the Acknowledgement noting that you are not making any admissions in respect of the allegations, but you are content with the divorce proceeding. 

If your spouse has filed for divorce on the fact of adultery or 2 years separation (with consent), they would need you to admit to the adultery or consent to the divorce based on 2 years separation, for the divorce to proceed. 

It is worth noting that if you do not provide your admission or consent in respect of adultery or 2 years separation, your spouse could amend their Petition and base it upon your unreasonable behaviour. There are then a number of options available to them to proceed with the divorce, without your acknowledgement. It is, therefore, best to address the Petition and seek legal advice from the outset. 

If you require our specialist divorce and family law services, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team here.

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