The form has changed but the law has not! – The new divorce Petition

Almost a month on from its debut, applicants completing the new divorce form, which came into force from 4 September 2017, should beware that while the divorce petition form has changed, the law has not.

Although the form of divorce petition has expanded from seven to fifteen pages, the new form has been aimed at making it much clearer and more user-friendly to complete. There are now notes in the margin to assist the applicant in filling out the relevant details and information necessary to appropriately commence their divorce process. However, there remain certain points which will need careful consideration and you should be sure of your legal position and options before completing the form.

For example, it remains necessary to carefully consider the scope, content and extent of any particulars raised as to the other party’s alleged unreasonable behaviour if these are citied.

Also, consideration as to whether or not to name the third party in a petition based on adultery remains an important and sensitive issue. To complete the Co-Respondent’s details on the form will have practical implications to the procedural steps involved and may have emotive implications which may impact on costs and timing of the divorce and related issues. Although the new form guides the applicant that it is “not normally necessary to name the person your spouse committed adultery with”, there may be reasons stronger than going ahead and naming them because you expect that the petition “is likely to be disputed” which the form further guides.  The form identifies that if you name the Co-Respondent, “you must provide their address in section 8 and the Court will send them a copy of your petition to give them a chance to respond. Your petition could be delayed if they do not respond and it could cost you more money.” Consideration to proceeding on an alternative basis, such as alleged unreasonable behaviour or a period of separation, may be more suitable and may preserve and protect your position and conserve costs.

Failure to appropriately complete the section of the petition dealing with financial claims arising out of the marriage may also lead to additional steps or prejudice your position.

Although the form is clearly aimed at litigants in person, there is a danger that those completing it without a lawyer will fail to consider the wider implications of certain entries on future financial or children matters.

If you would like further information and advice on this issue please contact Anna Ferro on 01494 478612 or email alf@blasermills.co.uk