The top 10 reasons why divorce petitions are returned

    Resolution have circulated the top 10 reasons divorce petitions are being returned. Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) revealed last year that, since the move from courts to Divorce Centres, approximately 40% of petitions are being returned due to drafting errors.

    In April 2016 Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre put together the top ten reasons why divorce petitions are being returned, circulated by Resolution to its members. It is hoped that this will provide some guidance as to where the potential errors occur, and therefore a warning to practicing solicitors and litigants in person as to what to avoid when drafting petitions to ensure minimal delays in proceedings.

    The 10 main reasons for returning petitions are:

    1. Failing to enclose the correct fee (currently £550).
    1. Incorrect details regarding the parties to the petition. The names should match those on the marriage certificate exactly, and the place and date of marriage need to be in full.
    1. Jurisdiction: these details are often incomplete and incorrect.
    1. Incomplete details or information regarding other proceedings or arrangements.
    1. The grounds for divorce selected in part 5 of the petition do not match the statement of case in part 6, or more than one ground has been selected.
    1. The statement of case in part 6 is often incomplete or containing insufficient detail as to why the parties should be allowed to divorce.
    1. Failing to enclose the original marriage certificate with the petition; only supplying a photocopy, or failing to supply a translation of the marriage certificate where necessary.
    1. No certificate of reconciliation received from solicitor
    1. No fee remission contribution received, i.e. for those entitled to a reduced fee.
    1. Failing to provide an address for service of the petition to the other party.

    Drafting errors and failing to enclose the correct documentation can cause delays in the process. Petitions are now being sent to Divorce Centres, such as Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, which is now processing huge numbers of petitions each day, it can therefore take several weeks for a sealed petition to be returned. Errors such as the ones listed above can cause the process to take months, as documents will need to be returned and re-submitted.