News & Insights

Defended Divorce

When a couple have decided that their relationship has broken down irretrievably, one of them must issue a divorce petition. The person who issues, is known as the ‘Petitioner’ and the other person is known as the ‘Respondent’. Upon receiving a copy of the divorce petition, the Respondent is required to complete an acknowledgement of service to let the Court know that they have received the petition. The form gives the Respondent the opportunity to say whether they intend to defend the divorce.

Defended divorce proceedings are very rare in practice and should only be used in exceptional circumstances. For example, there may be religious reasons or the jurisdiction of the Court is incorrect.

We often find that a party without legal advice will defend the proceedings simply because they want to tell the Court that they do not agree to the allegations cited when using the ground of unreasonable behaviour. It is possible for parties to agree the examples of unreasonable behaviour in advance so the divorce can proceed smoothly.

We inform all of our clients that by acknowledging the divorce petition, does not mean that you admit the allegations. Defending a divorce will always increase the animosity between parties. It is very time consuming and costly and there is usually no benefit in pursuing such route. We therefore do not encourage defending a divorce, unless it is absolutely necessary.

In the rare case that a divorce is defended, the Court enquires into the facts. More often than not, the Court will be satisfied to the entitlement of a divorce. However if the Court is not satisfied, the Court can order further evidence and list the matter for a hearing. This additional hearing will incur unnecessary costs for both parties.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact Lynn Gooch on 020 8502 3991 for more information.