PRACTICE DIRECTION 7A – PROCEDURE FOR APPLICATIONS IN MATRIMONIAL AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP PROCEEDINGS
This PD applies to applications issued by the court on or after 6 April 2022. For applications issued by the court before 6 April 2022 see the following link.
See also Part 7, Practice Direction 7B, Practice Direction 7C, Practice Direction 7D
This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 7
|Applications for matrimonial and civil partnership orders: general||Para. 1.1|
|Proof of marriage or civil partnership to accompany the application||Para. 3.1|
|Information required where evidence of a conviction or finding is to be relied on||Para. 4.1|
|Amendments to applications and answers||Para. 5.1|
|Requests for further information under rule 7.16 (further information)||Para. 6.1|
|Disclosure and inspection||Para. 7.1|
|Final orders: need for expedition||Para. 8.1|
|Joint applications||Para 9.1|
|Disputed cases||Para 10.1|
|Other proceedings||Para 11.1|
|Procedure for costs applications: standard cases||Para 12.1|
Applications for matrimonial and civil partnership orders: general
1.1 An application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order must be made in the form referred to in Practice Direction 5A. The application form sets out the documents which must accompany the application.
1.2 The application for a matrimonial order or a civil partnership order must be completed according to the detailed notes which accompany the form.
(a) in matrimonial proceedings, a dissolution or annulment of the marriage or a decree of judicial separation;
(b) in civil partnership proceedings, a dissolution or annulment of the civil partnership or a separation order.
The particulars should, however, be as concise as possible consistent with providing the necessary evidence.
Proof of marriage or civil partnership to accompany the application
3.1 The application form for a matrimonial order or a civil partnership order sets out the documents which must accompany the application. Where the existence and validity of a marriage or civil partnership is not disputed, its validity will be proved by the application being accompanied by –
(a) one of the following –
(i) a certificate of the marriage or civil partnership to which the application relates; issued under the law in force in the country where the marriage or civil partnership registration took place;
(ii) a similar document issued under the law in force in the country where the marriage or civil partnership registration took place; or
(iii) a certified copy of such a certificate or document obtained from the appropriate register office; and
(b) where the certificate, document or certified copy is not in English (or, where the court is in Wales, in Welsh), a translation of that document certified by a notary public or authenticated by a statement of truth.
Filing without accompanying proof of marriage or civil partnership
3.2 If –
(a) the applicant cannot produce –
(i) the certificate, similar document or a certified copy; and
(ii) (where necessary) an authenticated translation;
at the time of filing the application; and
(b) it is urgent that the application be filed,
the applicant may apply to the court without notice for permission to file the application without the certificate, document, certified copy or authenticated translation.
3.3 The applicant or the applicant's solicitor must in such a case file with the application a statement explaining why –
(a) the required document is not available; and
(b) the application is urgent.
3.4 The court may give permission to file the application without the required document if the applicant gives an undertaking to file that document at the very earliest opportunity and within any time limit set by the court.
3.4A In the case of a joint application the references in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 to “the applicant” shall be taken to mean either applicant.
Other methods of proof of the marriage or civil partnership
3.5 The requirements of this Practice Direction do not prevent the existence and validity of a marriage, or of an overseas relationship which is not a marriage, being proved in accordance with –
(a) the Evidence (Foreign, Dominion and Colonial Documents) Act 1933; or
(b) any other method authorised in any other Practice Direction, rule or Act.
Information required where evidence of a conviction or finding is to be relied on
4.1 An applicant in nullity proceedings who wishes to rely on evidence –
(a) under section 11 of the Civil Evidence Act 1968 of a conviction of an offence; or
(b) under section 12 of that Act of a finding or adjudication of adultery or paternity,
must include in the application form a statement to that effect and give the following details –
Supplemental applications and amendments to applications and answers
5.1 An application for permission, where required, to file a supplemental application in nullity proceedings or to amend an application or answer may be dealt with at a hearing.
5.2 When making an application for permission for the purposes of paragraph 5.1, the applicant should file at court –
(a) the notice of application for permission; and
(b) the proposed supplemental application or a copy of the application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order or the answer showing the proposed amendments.
5.3 Where permission has been given for the purposes of paragraph 5.1, the applicant should within 14 days of the date of the order, or within such other period as the court directs, file with the court the amended application for a matrimonial or a civil partnership order, the amended answer or, in nullity proceedings, the supplemental application.
5.4 A supplemental application should be made on form D8. It should contain the same details of the parties as the original application, set out the supplemental allegations the party seeks to rely upon, state that “The [Petitioner/ Respondent] prays as before”, include an address for service and be dated.
Summary of applications etc. which may be made
5A.1 In nullity proceedings an applicant may make (i) an application (ii) an amended application (iii) a supplemental application (iv) a further (or second) application. By virtue of being served with such applications, a respondent may file (i) an answer (ii) an answer to an amended application (iii) an answer to a supplemental application (iv) an answer to a further (or second) application. Separately, a respondent may file an amended answer. Rule 7.14 sets out when a respondent may make an application.
5A.2 In matrimonial and civil partnership proceedings (other than nullity proceedings) an applicant may make (i) an application (including a joint application) (ii) an amended application (iii) a further (or second) application. A respondent when disputing proceedings may file (i) an answer (ii) an answer to an amended application (iii) an answer to a further (or second) application. Separately, a respondent may file an amended answer. Rule 7.12 sets out when a respondent may make an application.
5A.3 Where it is necessary in some way to amend an application for a matrimonial order or a civil partnership order, there are distinctions to be drawn between an amended application, a supplemental application and a further application –
(a) an amended application might be used to make alterations or additions to the details given in the application or the orders sought;
(b) a supplemental application can only be made in nullity proceedings and might be used to add particulars, allegations or acts which occurred after the date of the original application. A supplemental application forms part of the original application and effects an amendment to it;
(c) a further (or second) application may only be made with permission under FPR 2010, r 7.4(1)(b) except that no permission is required where the applicant has, within one year from the date of the marriage, or civil partnership, made an application for a judicial separation order or separation order and then, after that one-year period has passed, wishes to apply for a divorce or a dissolution order.
5A.4 A respondent may only make an application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order seeking the same relief as the applicant if the applicant’s application has been dismissed or finally determined or if the court gives permission (FPR 2010, r 7.12(1)). Where, for example, an applicant has applied for a divorce or dissolution order and the application has not been pursued, but has not been dismissed or withdrawn, the respondent would require the court’s permission to make an application for a divorce or dissolution order in respect of their marriage or civil partnership. On the other hand, the court’s permission would not be required where, for example, the applicant has applied for a judicial separation order or a separation order and the respondent wishes to apply for a divorce order or dissolution order (where a period of at least one year has expired since the date of the marriage or civil partnership).”.
Requests for further information under rule 7.16 (further information)
6.1 Before making an application under rule 7.16, the party seeking clarification or information (‘the requesting party’) should first serve a written request for it on the party from whom the clarification or information is sought, giving a date by which a reply should be served. The date should be such as to allow the requested party a reasonable time to respond.
6.2 A request should be made by letter or in a separate document, should contain no other subject matter, and should make clear that it is made under rule 7.16. It must be concise and confined to matters which are reasonably necessary and proportionate to enable the requesting party to prepare his or her own case or understand the case of the party to whom the request is directed.
6.3 The reply to the request must be in writing, dated and signed by the requested party or that party's legal representative.
6.4 The reply may be made by letter or in a separate document, should contain no other subject matter, and should make clear that it is a reply to the request concerned. It should repeat each request together with the reply to it. It must be served on every party to the proceedings.
6.5 A party who objects to replying to all or part of a request under rule 7.16, or who is unable to do so, must inform the requesting party promptly, and in any event within the time within which a reply has been requested, and give reasons for objecting or being unable to reply (as the case may be).
Disclosure and inspection
7.1 Where an application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order is disputed the court may make an order for the disclosure of documents under rule 7.17(2)(c).
7.2 When an order for disclosure is made, the disclosing party must, in order to comply, make a reasonable search for the documents required to be disclosed. The extent of the search will depend upon the circumstances of the case and parties should bear in mind the overriding principle of proportionality.
7.3 Documents should be disclosed in a list which should normally list the documents in date order, numbering them consecutively and giving each a concise description. Where there are a large number of documents falling into a particular category they may be grouped together (e.g. 50 bank statements relating to x account from y date to z date).
7.4 The obligations imposed by a disclosure order continue until the proceedings come to an end. If, after the list of documents has been prepared and served, the existence of further documents to which the order applies comes to the attention of the disclosing party, that party must prepare and serve a supplemental list.
7.5 A list of documents must contain the following statement:
I, [insert name] state that I have carried out a reasonable and proportionate search to locate all the documents which I am required to disclose under the disclosure order made by the court on [insert date]. [I did not search for [insert here any limitations on search by reference to date, location, nature of documents etc]]. I understand the duty of disclosure and to the best of my knowledge I have carried out that duty. I certify that the list above is a complete list of all the documents which are or have been in my control and which I am obliged under the order to disclose.
7.6 If the disclosing party wishes to claim a right or duty to withhold inspection of a document or part of a document, that party must indicate in writing in the disclosure statement that such a right or duty is claimed, and the grounds on which it is claimed.
Final orders: need for expedition
8.3 Where a party in an application for a matrimonial or civil partnership order has grounds for expediting the making of the final order, that party should ordinarily seek directions with a view to an early hearing of the case. Where such an application has not been possible, an application should be made to the district judge making the conditional order for the time between the conditional and final order to be shortened.
(Section 1(8) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 provides that the court may, in a particular case, by order shorten the period that would otherwise be applicable.)
8.4 Where the need for expedition only becomes obvious after the making of the conditional order, or where (exceptionally) it arises in a standard case, an application, on notice to the other parties to the proceedings, should be made using the procedure in Part 18 for an order shortening the time before which the final order may be made.
9.1 A joint application must be completed in accordance with the notes that accompany the form. If a joint application is progressed by one applicant only it becomes a sole application. A joint application can proceed as a sole application only when applying for a conditional order or final order.
9.2 In a joint application where the conditional order has been made in favour of both parties, but the application for final order is made by one party only that party must first give prior notice to the other party of their intention in accordance with r 7.19(2).
10.1 An answer cannot be filed disputing the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership. An answer to an application can be filed disputing the validity or subsistence of the marriage or civil partnership or the jurisdiction of the court to entertain proceedings.
11.1 An applicant (whether a sole or joint applicant) for a matrimonial or civil partnership order must give details in the application of any existing or concluded proceedings known to the applicant in respect of the marriage or civil partnership, or which may have affected its validity or subsistence. This includes any proceedings in England and Wales or in any country outside England and Wales. A respondent to an application must give details of any such existing or concluded proceedings in the acknowledgment of service and in any answer to the application.
11.2 Where, on considering an application in accordance with rule 7.10 or giving directions under rule 7.11 or 7.17, it appears to the court that there are proceedings continuing in any country outside England and Wales which are in respect of the marriage or civil partnership or which are capable of affecting its validity or subsistence, the court must consider whether it is necessary to give directions under rule 7.33 (consideration of whether the proceedings should be stayed under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 or, for civil partnership proceedings, under rule 4 of the Family Procedure (Civil Partnership: Staying of Proceedings) Rules 2010).
11.3 Any application by a party for matrimonial or civil partnership proceedings to be stayed under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 or rule 4 of the Family Procedure (Civil Partnership: Staying of Proceedings) Rules 2010) must be made using the Part 18 procedure.
11.4 Where at any stage it appears to the court, whether by virtue of information provided under para 11.1 or otherwise, that proceedings have been concluded in any country outside England and Wales which were in respect of the marriage or civil partnership or which may have affected its validity or subsistence and no answer has been filed disputing the validity or subsistence of the marriage or civil partnership, the court must consider whether to direct:
(i) that any party to the proceedings provide such further information, or take such other steps, as the court may specify; or
(ii)that the case be listed for a case management hearing.
Procedure for costs applications: standard cases
12.1 In a standard case, any application for an order in respect of the costs of the proceedings should generally be made no later than the application for a conditional order under r.7.9, but must in any event be made before the date on which the conditional order is made final .
12.2 The applicant must set out in the application notice or in any written evidence in support, the grounds on which the order is sought and, where costs are sought in a specified amount, a summary showing how the amount has been calculated.
12.3 The applicant must serve the application notice and any written evidence in support on the respondent within 7 days after the application has been issued and must file a certificate of service within 7 days thereafter.
12.4 A respondent who opposes the making of a costs order or who disputes the amount of costs claimed must, within 14 days after service of the application, file with the court and serve on the applicant a witness statement setting out the grounds on which the application is opposed.
12.5 The court will normally deal with an application for a costs order under r 7.32(2) without a hearing but may direct a hearing of the application if it considers that a hearing would be appropriate.
12.6 Paragraphs 12.1 to 12.5 do not affect the power of the court to make an order about costs on any other application made in the course of the proceedings.”.