Whether it’s expected or not, being handed a divorce petition can be a very stressful experience for any individual. Getting to grips with divorce can be tough, and it can be difficult to know what to do. We’ve put together this short guide to your next steps after being sent a divorce petition.
The first thing to establish is whether you’ve been served a draft petition. If your spouse has a solicitor, you should be forwarded a draft petition first – this is so that you may have the opportunity to suggest changes to the document, to ensure the final document served to the court is representative of both parties’ needs and demands.
If you’ve received a draft, go through it with your own solicitor and discuss whether there are any elements you’d like to challenge or amend. Do you agree with the contents of the document? Is your spouse saying anything unfair or untrue within the petition? Do you feel that the document accurately reflects the reality of your marriage?
If you don’t agree with the initial draft, you’ve got options. Write to your spouse or their solicitor and ask them to amend the document, outlining the areas you feel inappropriate or inaccurate. If the petition has already been issued, there’s a small charge for this.
At some part shortly after you receiving the petition, you should also receive an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ from the Court. This will basically ask you to confirm your receipt of the document, on what address it was received, whether you agree with the document and whether you’re intending to defend the divorce. If you do plan to defend the divorce, you should notify the Court within 8 days of receiving the original petition.
At Hopkins, we can’t offer overarching advice on all divorce cases – in many circumstances it’s advised not to defend a petition, but divorces can be complex matters that must be assessed individually. Come and talk to us if you have any concerns about whether you should defend the divorce.
The financial side of divorce can also be tricky. It’s standard for petitioners to claim costs of the divorce proceedings against the respondent. This leaves the respondent with two options. They can write directly to their spouse’s solicitor and ask them to confirm their costs. If the costs are reasonable, you could agree to meet half, or negotiate a similar figure. Alternatively, you can use the Acknowledgement of Service to decline payment. It’s standard practice to give a reason – for example, if your partner didn’t serve you a draft petition. It’s worth making it clear how much you’re willing to pay – otherwise the courts will make the decision for both parties.
Of course, there are many other things to consider when going through a separation – including family finances, child custody and other legal arrangements. If you need any help with matters revolving around family law or divorce, the team here at Hopkins are happy to assist you – get in touch today.
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