The Five Stages of Divorce
the risks of DIY divorce

The Five Stages of Divorce

Stage 1 – The Petition

Stage 2 – The Response

Stage 3 – Applying for a Conditional Order

Stage 4 – Conditional Order

Stage 5 – Pronouncement of Final Order

The process of getting a divorce can be understandably difficult, and it comes with many concerns – from the emotional to the financial and practical. This guide aims to ease that load for anyone looking to get a divorce, by breaking down the process into five easy-to-understand steps. Read on to discover the five stages of divorce, along with detail on each step and what you will need to do.

The Petition

In order to initiate divorce proceedings, the applying party, known as the Applicant, will need to send to the court a Divorce Petition. The only ground for a divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

In England and Wales, as of 6 April 2021, the Petition will be issued on a “no fault” basis, meaning that a marriage has broken down with no “blame” placed on either party.

The Response

Once the Petition has been lodged, the court will send a copy to your spouse, who known as the Respondent, alongside an Acknowledgement of Service form which they should complete and send back to the court to allow the divorce to proceed.

In cases where the Respondent refuses to return the Acknowledgement of Service form, the Applicant can arrange for a process server to personally serve the Petition on the Respondent. The process server will charge a fee for this and will provide a statement of service which can be used in lieu of the signed Acknowledgement of Service to progress the divorce.

Applying for a Conditional Order

Once the Petition has been appropriately acknowledged, the Applicant will need to apply for a Conditional Order, which is the first decree in divorce proceedings. The Conditional Order cannot be applied for until 20 weeks have passed from the date that the Petition was issued by the Court.

This is done by submitting an application form alongside a statement in support which confirms that the contents of the application are true. Upon these being lodged with the court, and the court considering the documentation and being satisfied that the Applicant is entitled to a divorce, the Court will issue a Certificate of Entitlement to a Conditional Order which will list the date for the pronouncement of the Conditional Order.

Conditional Order

Both parties will receive a Court Order stating that the Conditional Order has been pronounced.

The divorce is not complete until the Final Order is pronounced, and this can only be applied for after at least 6 weeks have passed since the pronouncement of the Conditional Order. After the prescribed time, the Applicant is entitled to lodge a Notice of Application for Conditional Order to be made Final.

Pronouncement of Final Order

The final step in the divorce is the pronouncement of the Final Order which will be made on the court receiving the Notice of Application for Conditional Order to be made Final.  The first date that the Applicant can make such application is 6 weeks after the pronouncement of the Conditional Order. Once the Final Order has been granted, you will be legally divorced.

It should be noted that obtaining a Final Order does not prevent your spouse from having a claim on your income and /or assets and /or any future inheritance you may receive. In order to be protected from any future claims, a clean break Consent Order is required. It is often recommended that the Applicant refrain from applying for the Final Order until financial matters are resolved. It is possible for the Respondent to make such application for the Final Order, should the Applicant fail/refuse to do so. However, this is more complication and requires an application being made to the court and a hearing where the Judge will decide.

For more information on how our experienced Family Solicitors can help with your divorce, whether the Petitioner or Respondent please contact our client service advisors.


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