Separation and divorce -proceedings - The cross petition


Frequently, a respondent will state that he or she intends to defend the allegations made in the petition (in that they will file an answer denying the allegations made) but will accept that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The respondent will then file what is known as a 'cross petition' in which he or she will allege, for example, that the marriage has broken down due to the behaviour, not of the respondent, but of the petitioner. Often, a petition or cross petition can be compromised, either by one party accepting that a decree can be obtained upon the other party's petition or cross petition, or by both parties obtaining decrees against each other, Frequently, honour is felt to be preserved by the latter alternative.

Hitches and hurdles

Even in this age of speedy communication, the so-called 'quickie divorce' can turn out to be a lengthy process.

Take, for example, the question of custody of the children. All being well, and provided that you are in agreement with your spouse as to the orders for custody, care and control, and access, these will be dealt with at the time of the pronouncement of decree nisi.

However, if there have been problems along the way over these issues, the whole procedure could take much longer.

Consider, too, the financial arrangements which run alongside a divorce petition. Again, if all financial issues are fully agreed between you before the pronouncement of decree nisi, your solicitors will detail that agreement in a document called a 'minute of order'.

The document will be signed by your solicitors and lodged at the court on or any time after the pronouncement of decree nisi together with a statement setting out your respective financial positions.

The court, if it approves the financial information and the document detailing the agreement, will make an order in those terms. But if financial issues are still in debate at the time of the pronouncement of decree nisi, the procedure may be held up until the problems are resolved.

So, the more you and your spouse can agree on all issues concerning finance, children and so on, before the pronouncement of decree nisi, then the quicker all aspects of your divorce can be dealt with.

It may even be completed within the four- to five-month periods. However, if you cannot agree on certain points, divorce may take a considerable time to complete.


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Separation and divorce -proceedings - Judicial separation

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