Responding to a divorce petition

The spouse will be required to sign and return an Acknowledgement of Service form to the court, in order to show that he or she has received the petition. This must normally reach the court within eight days, starting on the day after they receive the divorce papers, although time limits will be longer if the spouse is being served outside England and Wales. The Acknowledgement of Service form allows the spouse to say whether or not they agree with the contents of the divorce papers and whether they wish to defend the divorce.

Defended divorces are rare because if one person wants a divorce, that is usually a sign that the marriage has broken down. Consenting to a divorce will not normally affect a person’s rights in terms of finances or the children. The child arrangements and finances may need to be resolved, but it is unlikely to matter who divorced whom or what reason was given in the petition. A defended divorce can also cost a lot of money, as a court hearing will normally be listed, which each spouse may have to attend. If the spouse defends the divorce petition, the other spouse should seek legal advice.