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The two phrases respondent and petitioner are used a lot when talking about divorce, but what do these phrases actually mean?

A petitioner is a spouse who applies for the divorce. They are the ones who are in control of the divorce proceedings.

A respondent is the other spouse who is served the divorce petition and responds to it.

Who pays for the divorce, petitioner or respondent?

The petitioner is the one who files the divorce petition meaning they are the one to initially pay for the divorce.

If the divorce is amicable then you may choose to share or pay the full amount of divorce fees to get the divorce started as soon as possible.

However, if the petitioner is filing for divorce using a fault-based divorce they can ask the respondent to pay their costs.

If the petitioner files for divorce but the respondent does not agree to the divorce, there will be a cost hearing once the decree nisi has been pronounced.

During this costs hearing the respondent will be able to argue why they shouldn’t have to pay the costs.

If this is the case, a financial assessment will occur and it will be down to the judge to decide how much the respondent has to pay.

It’s important to note that the judge will also assess to see if the fees the respondent is being asked to pay are reasonable.

Is it best to be the respondent or petitioner?

This is a question we get asked a lot and, it’s a hard one to answer.

The petitioner is the one who is leading the divorce so in the majority of cases means they have to do a lot more than the respondent, this can be very time-consuming and stressful.

The respondent’s role can be a little less strenuous but only if the divorce is amicable. Defending a divorce petition can be very stressful.

Overall it depends on your situation. It’s important to note that you cannot file for divorce using your own adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

If you want to use your behaviour as the grounds for divorce your spouse will have to become the petitioner.

Divorce process- who does what?

There are 4 stages to divorce:
1. File Divorce petition
2. Acknowledgement of service
3. Decree Nisi
4. Decree absolute

1. The petitioner initiates the divorce, as they are the one who is petitioning for the divorce.

They are required to file out a d8 divorce form, which can be found on the government website, and send it to the respondent.

2. Once the respondent has received the divorce petition they will have to sign to say they have received the divorce papers (acknowledgement of service form).

They will then have to send their answer back to the petitioner. Their answer could be that they either; agree, or defend the divorce petition.

3+4. If the divorce is amicable and the judge believes they are entitled to divorce then the petitioner will apply for their decree nisi followed by their decree absolute.

If the divorce is not amicable then the process can be a little different. Check out the following blog post for more information: Respondent in divorce proceedings, the options.

Can a petitioner withdraw divorce proceedings?

If the petitioner has filed the divorce petition but the respondent has not yet filed an answer to the divorce. The petitioner is able to withdraw their divorce petition.

The petitioner alone cannot withdraw their petition if the respondent has filed an answer to the divorce petition.

If the respondent has filed an answer, the petition can only be dismissed if both parties agree to dismiss the case.

However, if the final divorce decree has been issued then, unfortunately, it’s too late to dismiss your divorce.

The process of withdrawing a divorce petition can vary. You may be asked to fill out a form and send it to the courts or you may be asked to write a letter stating that you wish your divorce to be dismissed.

How can we help

We offer a number of services to suit both the needs of the petitioner and respondent.

We have several divorce services to suit the needs of a petitioner including a managed divorce.

This service means that we will handle your entire divorce from start to finish. This enables you to sit back and relax knowing that your divorce is in safe hands.

We also offer a respondent divorce service. This service is for those who have received a divorce petition from the court on behalf of their spouse.

This service means that our solicitors will deal with your spouse, their legal representatives and the court office and judge at court on your behalf.

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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