I’ve received a divorce petition
A draft petition should have been sent to you in advance for you to approve so hopefully this is not a surprise to you. But if you had no idea it was coming, there’s no need to panic.
The forms will say that you have just 7 days to reply to a divorce petition by returning the acknowledgement of service form. But nothing will happen after 7 days if you don’t, so don’t rush off to the first solicitor you can find.
If you don’t reply to a divorce petition by returning the form, sooner or later you will have the petition given to you personally by a court bailiff or process server.
This is no big deal, except that you’ll have to pay the fees for this (at least £100). If you don’t want that expense, make sure your form is returned to the court within two to three weeks if you think your spouse is going to be in a hurry to push things through. If they have a solicitor, you could ring, or write to them, and say you need time to take some advice and you will return the form in x weeks – you decide, take control!
That gives you time to recover from the shock of the petition and to decide if you need any help with filling in the acknowledgement of service form. The form itself is simple but, depending on what’s in the petition, you may want to take some advice before completing and returning it. If the petition contains an application for costs you may want to ask how much these are and negotiate how much you pay before completing and returning your form.
If you give me a call I can explain what’s in your petition and give you the information you need to help you to complete the form and reply to a divorce petition yourself. That will cost you infinitely less than getting a solicitor to fill it in for you, send it to the court and put themselves on the court record. Be aware that once the solicitor is on the court record, the court will send all future documentation to them rather than to you – and you will be paying them handsomely to forward it to you. Be clear in your own mind, and with any solicitor you speak to, if it is just advice on the form you want, or whether you are asking them to take over your whole divorce.
You might also be interested in reading the ‘Legal Structure of Divorce’ a two-minute guide to divorce proceedings.