divorce papers

How do I get a divorce?

In the UK, there is no such thing as an immediate “no-fault divorce,” meaning that you need to have a reason for the divorce considered valid by the court.

The courts accept the following grounds for divorce:

  • 2-year separation – where you must prove to the family court that you and your partner have been living at two separate addresses for more than two years (and that both of you want a divorce).
  • 5-year separation – where you must prove that you have been separated for five years and that your relationship has broken down irretrievably. For five-year separations, you do not need the consent of the other party.
  • Adulterous – where your partner had a sexual relationship with another person (not limited to intercourse).
  • Irretrievable breakdown – where there appears to be no way for the relationship to continue (perhaps because of one partner’s “unreasonable behaviour”).
  • Desertion – this occurs when your partner decides without your consent to leave the marital household and not return. Desertion does not apply if you agree to live apart.

Stages Of Getting A Divorce

Apply To The Court

If you want to get a divorce in England and Wales, you have to send a divorce petition to the court, citing key reasons for your decision. Please note that judges can refuse to accept petitions if they feel that the grounds for the divorce are not sufficient. For instance, they might reject an application on the grounds that one of the partners does not wash frequently enough.

This fact highlights the need to use divorce lawyers. Expert guidance makes it more likely that the judge will accept your petition and move on to the next step.

Get Your Partner To Respond

Once the court approves the petition, it will send it to the other party (your spouse) for them to respond. Your partner must reply to this letter for the divorce to go ahead.

If your partner is overseas, family law solicitors can help find them and provide advice on how to serve them with the relevant documents.

If they do not respond at all, then lawyers can advise you on how to arrange for bailiff services to prove services. If they still fail to respond, then you can make an application to the court to prove that they have been served.

Move To The Final Stages

Once your partner signs (thereby agreeing to the reasons for the divorce), proceedings should move rapidly. The divorce should go through the Decree Nisi stage and then the Decree Absolute within 4 to 6 months.

Please note, though, that simply getting a divorce does not eliminate all financial obligations from one party to another. Even if one partner does not contest the assets of the other at the divorce stage, they may contest them in the future.

If you want to protect against this, then you should complete a Clean Break Order. This legal device is ideal for couples that do not have any assets to divide but want to make sure that they cut all their financial ties in the future.

If you are considering a divorce or need support from our family law team, get in touch.