By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)
Q. My wife and I separated three years ago. We have both decided that we now wish to have a divorce, however, neither of us can afford to proceed with it through a solicitor. Could you explain the procedure in order that we may undertake the divorce ourselves?
A: In order to petition for divorce you will have to show to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, i.e you cannot tolerate staying married to each other.
Either you or your wife will need to lodge a divorce petition (available on the courts website) with the court. It may be one of you would be entitled to a fee exemption due to low income or receipt of certain benefits and therefore it may be sensible for that person to make the application.
You need to prove one of five facts in order for the divorce to proceed. In your case you can use the fact of two years' separation as long as you haven't lived together for a total period of six months during the separation and you have been apart for at least two years all together.
If you have any children, you will need to file a statement of arrangements for them. You will also need to send your marriage certificate to the court with your documents.
Once the documents have been lodged, the court will send the petition, statement of arrangements and an acknowledgment of service to the other spouse to complete.
Once the court has processed this, the petitioner receives it back, and will need to complete an affidavit (available online), along with an application for directions. The petitioner will need to swear the affidavit either before the clerks to the court or a solicitor (there is normally a small fee for this).
Once all these documents are received by the court, the judge will decide whether it can grant the decree nisi. If the judge is content with the documents, a date for decree nisi will be fixed. You do not normally attend court for is.
Six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is pronounced, the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute (the final stage).
There is a standard form to apply for this. There is a fee payable, but again one of you maybe exempt. Once your decree absolute has been granted you are both legally divorced.