Divorce Legal Guide - Part 2

By Lenore Rice

In the first part of our Divorce Legal Guide, we looked at an introduction to the divorce process and how it works, as well as exploring some useful things to keep in mind when considering divorce.

We also looked at the idea of the collaborative law divorce as an option for keeping divorce proceedings out of the courtroom.

In this part of the Guide we will discuss how to begin a formal divorce process, from the presentation of evidence to the lodging of the petition.

Starting a divorce process

While you can initiate a divorce without the aid of a solicitor, they can provide invaluable assistance in making the proceedings run as smoothly as possible. They have the experience and knowledge of working through hundreds of divorces.

Divorce solicitors are experts in their field, well versed in the nuances of the divorce process, and incredibly willing to work with you to ensure that you reach an outcome which is suitable for all parties involved.

While you can complete a certain degree of the initial work involved in initiating divorce proceedings without the aid of a solicitor, having an expert hand to guide you through the process can help shoulder the burden at such a difficult time.

It is also to important to remember that choosing to enlist the services of a solicitor is not an accusation of blame or an acceptance of fault on the part of you or your partner. If for whatever reason you do decide not to use a solicitor, and provided there is mutual consent to divorce, you can get information from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service.

You can also ask the Matrimonial Office for guidance on bringing a Petition for Divorce as a personal petitioner.

You will always need to contact a solicitor in the following circumstances:

 Lodging a petition in the Matrimonial Office

The divorce process begins when you lodge the petition and pay the relevant fee. 

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.

Under the petition, you are the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent.

You or your solicitor will need to lodge the following documents with the Matrimonial Office:

  • Marriage certificate
  • An acknowledgement of service form completed by the respondent
  • Birth certificates for any children under the age of 18
  • Agreements you wish to be made a rule of court
  • Any previous court orders about your marriage

In the next part of our Divorce Legal Guide, we will explore what happens after your petition is processed by the Matrimonial Office, including your case being listed before the court and what happens afterwards.