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Top 10 reasons for returning divorce petitions

Date:1 JUN 2016
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Journals Manager + Online Editor
The most common reasons for divorce petitions being returned by divorce centres have been revealed by Resolution. 

In May last year HMCTS said that the movement of work from courts to Divorce Centres highlighted significant issues with errors in the completion of applications for divorce petitions; nationally, broadly 40% of petitions had to be returned for correction. The HMCTS checklist issued at the time (14 April 2015) is available to download below.

The information, circulated to Resolution members, does not include numbers or what proportions of each are from solicitors but it does provide some useful guidance on potential pitfalls to be avoided when drafting petitions. Details of the information release are listed below:

Divorce Unit – April 2016 

Top 10 reasons for returning Divorce Petitions

1. No fee enclosed

2. Part 2 - Details of marriage, incorrect

  • Names do not match marriage certificate
  • Place of marriage
  • Date of marriage

3. Part 3 - Jurisdiction page, incomplete and incorrect

4. Part 4 - Other proceedings or arrangements, incomplete

5. Part 5 -The facts

  • Grounds at part 5 do not match statement of case at part 6
  • Two grounds selected

6. Part 6 - Statement of case, insufficient detail or incomplete

7. No marriage certificate received

  • No original marriage certificate enclosed
  • No translation of marriage certificate
  • Only photocopy of marriage certificate enclosed

8. No certificate of reconciliation received from solicitor

9. No fee remission contribution received

10. Part 9 – Service details

  • Not complete
  • No address for service for all parties
Divorce solicitor and family law arbitrator, Tony Roe, of Berkshire-based Tony Roe Solicitors comments:

'The bare statistics do not reveal the numbers involved, nor how many petitions were submitted by law firms as opposed to litigants in person. I have asked for breakdowns. However, previous information I have been given suggests that a significant proportion are indeed from solicitors.

These sort of errors cause delays to clients’ matters. Whilst drafting petitions is not rocket science, law firms should ensure that any less qualified and paralegal staff preparing petitions are properly supervised and have their work thoroughly checked.'

The HMCTS checklist is available to download here.

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