Divorce Legal Guide - Part 3

By Lenore Rice

In the second part of our Divorce Legal Guide, we looked at how to begin a formal divorce process, from the presentation of evidence to the lodging of the petition.

In this section of the Guide, we shall explore what happens once the petition has been processed by the Matrimonial Offie, including the case being listed before the court and how the process ends.

Serving the petition 

After the papers have been processed, the court will send you a certified copy of the petition, a copy of which you or your solicitor can then forward to the respondent.

This is referred to as 'serving the petition'. 

Case listed before court

When all the relevant documents have been received, the case will be listed before the court. The court will inform you and your spouse of the date of the court listing.

The case will be listed for the same court where the petitioner applied, but the case will be heard in the High Court if the respondent defends the petition.

Please be aware that there is a fee payable for the court date, and it will vary depending on whether your case is heard in the County Court or in the High Court. Please consult the Department of Justice website for details on when and how to pay court fees, as well as information on help with fees.

Respondent consents to petition

If the respondent consents to the petition, you will be asked to take a religious oath or make an affirmation and verify the information contained within your petition.

Respondent defends the petition

If the respondent defends the petition, you might need to give evidence and be cross-examined by the respondent’s legal representative.

If you have not already done so, you should seek legal advice if this happens.

Granting a decree nisi

A judge will hear the case. If they are satisfied with the evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, they will grant a decree nisi, which is a court order stating the date on which a marriage will end unless a good reason not to grant a divorce is produced.

Applying for a decree absolute 

At least six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is granted, the petitioner can apply to make the decree absolute.  They need to apply to the court where the divorce or dissolution case was heard.

The marriage formally ends when the decree absolute is granted.

The court can make orders about finance, maintenance and property.

Three months after the initial six weeks and a day, the respondent can apply for a decree absolute. But they can only do this with the court's permission.

Please be aware that there is a fee payable for a decree absolute, and you should apply to the court where the case was heard. Please consult the Department of Justice website for details on when and how to pay court fees, as well as information on help with fees.

Decree absolute is granted

When the decree absolute is granted, you and your former spouse will receive a copy.

This is an important document that you'll need to keep as it proves that you are divorced.

You'll need the document in order to:

  • apply for a passport
  • get re-married
  • apply for your pension or certain state benefits
  • apply for a student grant
  • apply for a grant of probate or Letters of Administration

In the final part of our Divorce Legal Guide, we shall explore the various ways that Wilson Nesbitt can assist you in reaching a divorce solution which is suitable for you, as well as introducing the dedicated members of our Family Team.