In due course, probably in several weeks time so I would leave it about 3 weeks before chasing the Court, you should receive (assuming everything went well and the Court accepted your allegations and the documents were correct) two certificates as follows:
a) A Certificate of Entitlement to a Decree. This simply says the Judge has looked at the paperwork and is satisfied that you have met the legal and procedural criteria to be entitled to a divorce. On that basis the Court will then list your case for a Court hearing. On this document it will state the date of the Court hearing that is due to take place.
Unless you are dealing with a claim for costs against your estranged spouse you do not need to attend Court on that day.
Incidentally, if you do wish to make a claim for costs you should write to the Court at least 7 days before the hearing explaining why you are seeking costs and advising that you intend to attend Court. You should ensure your estranged spouse receives a copy of that letter at least, say, 7 days before the scheduled hearing date. (There are procedural rules which you must comply with but it does not assist to be too technical in this blog in that respect).
Assuming you are making no claim for costs after the date of the Decree Nisi, the Court will then send you by post your Decree Nisi.
b) A Certificate for Section 41 purposes. I will not bore you with the details of what Section 41 states but in simple terms if you have no children the Court will simply say there are no children to whom the Court should have regard. If you do have children the Court will consider whether or not the Court needs to intervene. In this particular case the Court will grant you the certificate on the basis they do not feel there are any circumstances that require the Court to intervene in your child arrangements.
In the bad old days it was at this stage that Mums and Dads were expected to go to Court and typically, although not always, Mums got custody (as it was known) and Dads got access (as it was known) and a great deal of acrimony was had by both in the interim. The reality of the situation now is that the Court will only make an Order if it is better than making no Order at all. Therefore, for example, if the Court thinks there are no circumstances to cause them concern they will simply leave the parties to resolve the issues of residence (i.e. what was called custody) and contact (i.e. what was called access), to the parents.
Incidentally, if there are any issues in relation to the children you can deal with these at any time up to, in simple terms, their sixteenth birthday, so even though arrangements were made as per the Statement of Arrangements for children – that is considered to be a fluid document and not expected to be the final arrangements. Things change over time, especially with children so if a dispute later arises you can take the matter back to court as what is known as a freestanding Children Act application to resolve the issues of residence and contact.
For the sake of completeness, if the Court does have any issues in relation to the children then the Court will not grant you the two certificates and will ask both parties to go to Court to explain their position or write to you as the applicant (properly known as the petitioner) to explain anomalies in the Statement of Arrangements for Children that gave the Judge a cause for concern. In practice this happens very rarely.
Assuming you now have the second certificate, the Court will have listed the matter for pronouncement of Decree Nisi, as stated earlier and the same procedure follows.
In the next blog I will deal with the issues in relation to how the process is slightly different in the event you were personally serving the documents on your estranged spouse and they:
a) were served by bailiff or process server and returned the documents; or
b) were served by bailiff or process server and did not return the documents despite the fact they were personally served; or
c) you had an alternative method of service (as discussed in blog 5 such as substituted service or deemed service).