5 changes to the new divorce petition form

From August 2017, spouses must use the new updated petition form when seeking a divorce, dissolution (of a civil partnership) or legal separation. The new form is mostly the same as the old one, but with an updated layout and more guidance, making it much more user friendly. In addition there are a few notable changes. Read on to find out about the five main ones.

1. Documents to accompany the petition

Parties can no longer start the divorce process without providing the necessary original marriage certificates (which you could do in the past) without court permission. If parties want to submit a divorce petition to the court, without the certificates, then they will need to make a formal application (for £155) to the court for permission.

2. Changes to names and contact details

Although the new form is more strict about the need to provide clarity about any changes of name, the wording of the form suggests that it may be enough just to provide an explanation of any informal name changes, i.e. name changes undertaken without any legal process behind them. It is now easier to request that contact details be kept confidential.

3. Details of the marriage/civil partnership

In addition to providing the date of the marriage/civil partnership and the names of the parties involved, the new form asks the appellant to confirm that these details are correct.

4. Jurisdiction

Section 5 of the new form is a list that replaces the old jurisdiction section in Part 3. Section 5 provides additional guidance to make it easier for applicants, without any legal training, to complete the jurisdiction section of the form.

5. Statement of case

The new form has simplified the statement of case (which usually describes the situation of  a case including any defences) requirements as well as eliminating the need to provide a narrative if petitioning on the basis of separation.

Are further updates coming?

While the new form makes significant improvements on the old one in terms of user-friendliness, there are some areas which could benefit from further improvements. For example an extra field could be included to detail when the petition is received by the court as this can be a major factor in determining jurisdiction. For this reason it is very possible that the form will be updated again in the near future.

Karim Assaad

Partner at Fletcher Day
Karim is a partner within the Family department here at Fletcher Day, with many years of knowledge and experience in representing both men and women in family law cases.