4. Respond to a divorce petition

If your husband or wife has started divorce proceedings against you, the divorce centre will send you a ‘divorce petition’.

You will also get:

  • a notice of proceedings form
  • an acknowledgment of service form

Keep the notice of proceedings form, which tells you the case number and what you should do next.

You need to respond by filling in the acknowledgment of service form.

In most cases, if you don’t respond within 21 days, your husband or wife can continue with the divorce as if you’ve agreed. Contact the divorce centre or get legal advice to if you’re not sure.

Agree with the divorce

To agree with the divorce petition, fill in and return the acknowledgment of service form to the divorce centre within 8 days, and the divorce will go ahead.

Disagree with the divorce

To disagree with the divorce petition fill in the acknowledgment of service form and return it within 8 days. Fill in the part that says you’re defending the divorce.

The divorce centre will send copies to your husband or wife.

After you return the form, you have up to 21 days to say why you are defending the divorce. This is called ‘giving an answer’.

To do this, fill in the answer to a divorce petition.

You may have to pay a £245 fee.

Start your own divorce proceedings

After receiving a divorce petition you may then decide to start your own divorce against your husband or wife - eg if you have evidence of their adultery or unreasonable behaviour. To do this, fill in a divorce petition form.

You may have to pay a £550 fee.

Court hearing

When a divorce is defended or both sides file divorce petitions, a court will usually hold a hearing to discuss the case.

You and your husband or wife will usually have to attend to try to come to an agreement over the divorce.

Get legal advice if there’s going to be a court hearing.