Can I defend a divorce?

Can I defend a divorce?

Defending a Divorce

It is possible for you to defend divorce proceedings instigated by your spouse. However, it is very rare for a party to choose to defend a divorce and, in reality, it is incredibly difficult (and almost impossible) to be successful in doing so.

Our family lawyers at Freeman Jones Solicitors urge you to think very carefully about your options and what your final goal is before taking steps to defend a divorce.

What exactly is a defended divorce?

If your spouse issues a Divorce Petition (making them the petitioner and you the respondent), it will be issued by the court and then sent to you together with a document called an Acknowledgement of Service. This document has to be completed and signed by you and returned to the court to evidence that you are aware of the proceedings being brought against you.

The Acknowledgement of Service is a fairly straightforward form to complete. Within the document, questions will be asked of you in relation to your intention to defend the petition or to allow the proceedings to go ahead. As such, there is an option for you to inform the court of your intention to defend the divorce at this early stage.

That said, if this is the case, very strict deadlines apply, and we would therefore urge you to contact one of our family lawyers in Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wrexham, Oswestry and North Wales to receive immediate advice in this regard.

What would happen next?

Once the court receives your Acknowledgement of Service indicating that you intend to defend the divorce, they will likely list a short hearing before a District Judge that both you and your spouse must attend.

At that hearing, the District Judge will likely ask you for further details and may arrange for you and your spouse to comply with further directions such as the filing of evidence in the form of Witness Statements in advance of a contested hearing, at which you and your spouse will be expected to give oral evidence in relation to your marriage and its possible breakdown.

At the end of that contested hearing, the District Judge will make a decision as to whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down and should be dissolved or whether you have been successful in defending the divorce.

What about costs?

As stated above, you need to be thinking about what your final goal is from the outset.

A defended divorce will likely increase your costs considerably. Further, if you are unsuccessful in defending the divorce and the judge finds at the contested hearing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, it is likely he will order you to pay your spouse’s costs.

Of course, if you are considering defending a divorce, our specialist family divorce lawyers  at Freeman Jones Solicitors Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wrexham, Oswestry and North Wales will be able to provide you with detailed and specific advice in relation to your costs and the potential cost consequences of defending a divorce.

Will I be successful?

If you choose to defend divorce proceedings brought about by your spouse, you are essentially trying to prove to the court that your marriage has not irretrievably broken down. However, in all of these cases, the judge will be facing one person who says that the marriage is over.

Of course, to make a marriage work, both parties have to be willing to work at the marriage, hence why we have stated above that it is almost impossible to defend a divorce.

What are the alternatives?

It may be that you do not necessarily want to defend the divorce but rather the facts upon which your spouse relies when trying providing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. We often see, in practice, parties disagreeing as to the unreasonable behaviour evidence provided in a Divorce Petition.

As such, there is an opportunity for you to indicate within the Acknowledgement of Service that you wish to defend the petition by issuing your own cross petition, putting your own allegations before the court (making you the petitioner and your spouse the respondent).

We can also advise you in relation to the principal of Issue Estoppel which essentially involves letting the divorce itself proceed whilst not agreeing to the allegations set out within the petition.

If you are considering defending a divorce, we would suggest that you contact our offices to arrange a free initial 30 minute consultation with one of our expert family divorce lawyers in order that you can receive detailed advice in relation to the options available to you.

Defending a Divorce

It is possible for you to defend divorce proceedings instigated by your spouse. However, it is very rare for a party to choose to defend a divorce and, in reality, it is incredibly difficult (and almost impossible) to be successful in doing so.

Our family lawyers at Freeman Jones Solicitors urge you to think very carefully about your options and what your final goal is before taking steps to defend a divorce.

What exactly is a defended divorce?

If your spouse issues a Divorce Petition (making them the petitioner and you the respondent), it will be issued by the court and then sent to you together with a document called an Acknowledgement of Service. This document has to be completed and signed by you and returned to the court to evidence that you are aware of the proceedings being brought against you.

The Acknowledgement of Service is a fairly straightforward form to complete. Within the document, questions will be asked of you in relation to your intention to defend the petition or to allow the proceedings to go ahead. As such, there is an option for you to inform the court of your intention to defend the divorce at this early stage.

That said, if this is the case, very strict deadlines apply, and we would therefore urge you to contact one of our family lawyers in Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wrexham, Oswestry and North Wales to receive immediate advice in this regard.

What would happen next?

Once the court receives your Acknowledgement of Service indicating that you intend to defend the divorce, they will likely list a short hearing before a District Judge that both you and your spouse must attend.

At that hearing, the District Judge will likely ask you for further details and may arrange for you and your spouse to comply with further directions such as the filing of evidence in the form of Witness Statements in advance of a contested hearing, at which you and your spouse will be expected to give oral evidence in relation to your marriage and its possible breakdown.

At the end of that contested hearing, the District Judge will make a decision as to whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down and should be dissolved or whether you have been successful in defending the divorce.

What about costs?

As stated above, you need to be thinking about what your final goal is from the outset.

A defended divorce will likely increase your costs considerably. Further, if you are unsuccessful in defending the divorce and the judge finds at the contested hearing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, it is likely he will order you to pay your spouse’s costs.

Of course, if you are considering defending a divorce, our specialist family divorce lawyers  at Freeman Jones Solicitors Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wrexham, Oswestry and North Wales will be able to provide you with detailed and specific advice in relation to your costs and the potential cost consequences of defending a divorce.

Will I be successful?

If you choose to defend divorce proceedings brought about by your spouse, you are essentially trying to prove to the court that your marriage has not irretrievably broken down. However, in all of these cases, the judge will be facing one person who says that the marriage is over.

Of course, to make a marriage work, both parties have to be willing to work at the marriage, hence why we have stated above that it is almost impossible to defend a divorce.

What are the alternatives?

It may be that you do not necessarily want to defend the divorce but rather the facts upon which your spouse relies when trying providing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. We often see, in practice, parties disagreeing as to the unreasonable behaviour evidence provided in a Divorce Petition.

As such, there is an opportunity for you to indicate within the Acknowledgment of Service that you wish to defend the petition by issuing your own cross petition, putting your own allegations before the court (making you the petitioner and your spouse the respondent).

We can also advise you in relation to the principal of Issue Estoppel which essentially involves letting the divorce itself proceed whilst not agreeing to the allegations set out within the petition.

If you are considering defending a divorce, we would suggest that you contact our offices to arrange a free initial 30 minute consultation with one of our expert family divorce lawyers in order that you can receive detailed advice in relation to the options available to you.

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