What happens in the first stage of Divorce after you’ve filed the Court papers?
After you’ve informed the Court that you and your spouse have no disagreement over the Divorce terms and you’ll be ‘setting down’ your case for hearing on an uncontested basis, the Court will notify you of the next date where your uncontested divorce hearing date hearing will take place. The uncontested divorce hearing is short. A Judge will conduct the case in open Court, meaning that members of the public may watch the proceedings from the public gallery.
If your divorce is contested, your next Court session will be an administrative hearing called a Pre-Trial Conference (or PTC).
A Pre-Trial Conference is conducted by a Judge in chambers – meaning that the hearing is closed to the public, and only those directly involved in the matter can attend. You or your spouse don’t have to attend a Pre-Trial Conference yourself if you’ve got a lawyer.
The purpose of a Pre-Trial Conference is to get you and your spouse ready for the contested divorce hearing, which will take place by way of a trial in open Court.
If there is a chance of settlement, the Judge may refer the case for counselling with a professional Court counsellor, or for a resolution conference at the Family Relations Chambers.
If settlement is not possible, the Judge will ask you and your spouse to file your official written statements containing your version of facts and evidence in support of your respective cases called Affidavits of Evidence in Chief (or AEICs). If you’re not sure what to say, or need help preparing your affidavit, you should seek independent legal advice from a Divorce or Family Lawyer.
At the end of the uncontested divorce hearing or the contested divorce hearing, the Court will decide if there is enough evidence to consider that the marriage has irrevocably broken down.
The Interim Judgment is a temporary order for divorce. It is only confirmed as being finalised and conclusive after 3 months. If you’re planning on remarrying, you must remember that you cannot remarry until the Interim Judgment has been made final, meaning that you can only remarry after the Final Judgment has been issued.
So, there you’ve it, some basic information on: What happens in the first stage of Divorce after you’ve filed the Court papers