Contesting A Divorce- What You Need To Know

  • Author: Gemma Thew
  • Posted on: 28th September 2020
  • Posted in: Blog

What does contesting a divorce mean?

If there are no children or substantial financial assets to take into consideration when a divorce petition is filed, the process can be much quicker and easier than if you have other considerations to take into account. However, if a divorce is contested, it may not be this straight-forward so it's important to understand what it means to contest a divorce. 

Who is the petitioner and the respondent?

The person who initiates the divorce and puts forward the facts that they intend to rely on is called the petitioner and the person who is receiving the divorce petition and can defend or contest the facts put forward by the Petitioner is called the Respondent.

What can be contested in a divorce?

Currently, there is one ground on which you can get divorced and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The petitioner can rely on 1 of 5 facts to prove this being: ·

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. AdulteryDesertion
  3. Two years separation with consent
  4. Five years separation without consent

Depending on which fact is put forward by the Petitioner the Respondent may be able to defend or contest the divorce. The Respondent can defend the allegations used against them in an unreasonable behaviour petition or deny any adultery has occurred in an adultery petition.

If the Petitioner has petitioned on the fact of 2 years separation and the respondent doesn’t accept that they have been separated for at least two years they can withhold their consent to this. Similarly, if the petitioner states that they have been deserted for 2 years the respondent can reject this claim and provide evidence to the contrary. Finally, in a 5 years separation petition the respondent may be able to contest this if they can prove that the parties have not been separated for 5 years.

Do we need to try mediation?

You may be advised to try mediation which means that an impartial third party will help you and your partner to negotiate the terms of divorce. Mediation is also helpful if assisting parties in agreeing to a satisfactory outcome regarding any disputes about children or financial assets. Mediation can be sought prior to seeing a solicitor or during and may help to prevent you going to court to finalise the terms of divorce as this can often be extremely stressful and expensive for all parties involved.

How can I prepare to defend a divorce application?

It is advised that parties try and agree the appropriate way forward before divorce proceedings are issued to avoid unnecessary costs and delays that can be incurred in amending or defending a divorce petition. If however, you wish to defend a divorce you must complete the acknowledgment of service form confirming your intention, and it is advised that you seek legal advice at this stage to ensure you are completing the form correctly and you are aware of your obligation to comply with certain directions. If in doubt seek advice. Contesting a divorce is not generally advisable as in most cases it can be difficult to succeed.

The breakdown of a marriage and the divorce process is often a distressing, costly and complex experience, so it is advisable to seek advice early on and before taking action to make sure you are fully aware of how the process works and have an idea of associated costs. Your solicitor can communicate with other parties involved on your behalf and will provide best advice throughout the process.

At Crosby and Woods, we are always happy to talk through your divorce matter and we promise to guide you through the process with clear, transparent advice at all times.

If you would like to speak to one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers then please get in touch on 01273 734 600 or email