There is only one ground for divorce which is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage but it is proved by relying on one of 5 facts and the most common is unreasonable behaviour. Often and understandably the person who receives the court sealed petition (the respondent) finds that reading about their alleged faults is unpleasant, but where the parties have not been separated for more than 2 years and there is no case of adultery then this may be the only option available to the petitioner.
However, there are several options available to the respondent who has been served with a petition containing particulars that are either overly inflammatory or are simply not accepted.
If the petition has been served before it has been issued and sealed by the court then it may be possible for the particulars to be negotiated. As Resolution Members here at Hawkins Family Law it is standard practice for us to provide a respondent with a draft petition to consider before it is issued at court. The respondent is then given an opportunity to respond and request any amendments to the wording. This assists in keeping matters more amicable and therefore the parties are more likely to cooperate on other matters arising from separation.
If the petition is already lodged with the court and the respondent has been served with a sealed petition then he still has options available. One option is to simply state on his response to the petition (which will be on a form called an Acknowledgement of Service) that, although he is not defending the divorce, he does not accept the particulars contained within the petition and he can reserve his right to defend himself against them if necessary in the future. In reality, the divorce petition is usually only seen by the parties and their lawyers as well as the Judge. It has no bearing on financial matters and so it can be more cost effective to deal with matters in this way. Another option is for the Respondent to request that the petition is amended or he can himself cross-petition. This requires some cooperation from the petitioner and can increase legal costs where it is not strictly necessary.
The appropriate route is obviously different for each case. If you have been served with a divorce petition and are unsure of what steps to take next, please do give one of our solicitors here at Hawkins Family Law a call on 01908 262680 for a free initial chat on the telephone. In summary, there are certainly other options available other than simply embarking on the costly process of defending a petition that contains facts which are disputed. It is rare that we as practitioners come across someone who wishes to defend a divorce, as when one party wishes to leave the marriage it is unusual for the other to wish to remain in it. The wording of the petition is more often than not the issue at hand.
Having obtained her A Levels from the Royal Latin School in Buckingham, Rebecca Stewart went on to obtain a Legal Secretary Diploma through Pitmans Training and immediately following qualification secured a role at Hawkins Family Law. Following that she discovered her true ambition lay in becoming a Legal Executive specialising in Family Law.In 2012 Rebecca enrolled at Cilex Law School and by 2015 had completed all her level 3 exams, achieving distinctions in 3 of these modules, and is now an Associate Member of Cilex. Rebecca is now working towards her level 6 qualifications and is now able to act as a trainee Legal Executive under the supervision of the Directors of Hawkins Family Law.
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
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What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
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