The co-respondent in a divorce petition

7th March 2015 by


If the person filing the divorce petition (the petitioner) is doing so on the ground that their spouse has committed adultery, they may decide to name the third party and that person will become a co-respondent in the divorce.

The petitioner may decide to name the co-respondent in order to seek an order for costs against them, however, Family Law Protocols discourage petitioners from doing so unless there is an exceptional reason in favour of this action. The naming of a co-respondent may create hostility between the parties and the respondent may be encouraged to defend the divorce petition.

Adultery and the divorce petition

Where adultery has been offered as the ground for the divorce, it is likely that the divorce solicitor will ask the petitioner to supply, if possible, date(s) and place(s) of the adultery or, for adultery which has been committed over a lengthy period of time, the date it is believed the adultery began and, if appropriate, ended.

In the case where the respondent has been cohabiting with the third party, the dates and place(s) of cohabitation should be stated on the petition, with details of any children who may have been born to the respondent and the third party.

Under the Family Proceedings Rules 1991, it is not necessary for the third party to be named as co-respondent even if their identity is known to the petitioner. The only instance in which a third party must be named is if the petitioner wishes to make a claim for costs against them.

An address for the respondent and the co-respondent must be given (this being their last known address) on the petition and the co-respondent is entitled to be served with a copy of the divorce petition with any accompanying documents where appropriate.

Legal advice on the co-respondent in divorce

If you are filing a petition for divorce, and thinking of naming a co-respondent in the proceedings, the advice of an experienced divorce lawyer will be of great benefit. Likewise, if you have been named as a co-respondent on a divorce petition it would always be in your best interest to consult a family lawyer who can advise you of your rights and your best course of action.

If you require help to fill in your divorce petition, or want to discuss your position as a co-respondent, the experienced team of Healys’ divorce solicitors in London and Brighton can help.

Our many years’ experience as specialist divorce solicitors and family lawyers has taught us that each individual situation is different. Healys can help by listening sensitively and giving you straightforward legal advice so you can weigh up what options will work best for you.

For legal advice in confidence please call direct to Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email​