How to Get a Divorce

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If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, in addition to the personal questions you need to think about, there are legal points which need to be considered regarding whether you’re legally eligible to divorce. These are:

  • Have you been married for a minimum of one year?
  • Do you have a marriage certificate?
  • Has the marriage completely broken down?
  • Are you habitually resident and/or domiciled in England?

If you answer yes to the above questions, and you can establish English jurisdiction, you may be able to apply for a divorce. If you’re going to apply for divorce yourself, you will need to complete and send a D8 Form to your nearest Divorce Centre or Court.

For initial advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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Divorce Papers

The following documents and details need to be sent to your nearest Divorce Centre or Court.

  • 3 identical copies of the divorce application. One will be sent to the Respondent, one will be kept by the Court and the other will be returned to you once “issued”.
  • The original marriage certificate (and an original certified translation if the marriage certificate isn’t written in English)
  • Details regarding method of payment for the application fee and/or payment for the fee of £550.

The Court fee will need to be paid prior to the Court issuing the application. In limited circumstances, there is the possibility of being eligible for a ‘fee exemption’. The Court has also recently introduced an online divorce scheme.

The Divorce Application

Grounds for Divorce

There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales, which is that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. To satisfy this, you will need to prove one of the ‘5 facts’ listed within the application which are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Separated for two years with spouse’s consent
  • Separated for 5 years (no consent required).

You’ll be required to provide relevant details to the Court to satisfy that one of the above applies.

The divorce application asks if you wish to apply for a Financial Order for either yourself or any children. Please note that you should tick ‘yes’, regardless of whether the Financial Order is to be pursued. As the guidance notes confirm, this won’t automatically start financial proceedings. You will need to issue a separate application to do this. If you tick ‘no’, you may still be able to apply for a Financial Order but it may cause unnecessary complications. In this instance, you should speak with one of our Divorce Solicitors to help you decide what’s best for your particular circumstances.

You can also make a claim for costs from the Court for all or some of the costs of the divorce application to be repaid to you by the Respondent. A Court hearing may be listed to deal with this if you and your ex cannot agree. However, the costs often outweigh the rewards and it’s advisable to reach an agreement at the outset where possible.

The Divorce Process


    Sending of 'Acknowledgement of Service' & Divorce petition forms

    Upon being issued, the Court will send the divorce petition to the Respondent along with the ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form. This is a form which confirms that the Respondent has received the divorce petition. This needs to be completed and returned by the Respondent within 7 days of service.


    Serving the Divorce Papers

    Should the Respondent fail to file an Acknowledgement of Service, the Petitioner will need to arrange to have the divorce papers personally served on the Respondent. Service must be proved before the next stage of the divorce process can be reached. Another option is to file an application to the Court for the Court to arrange for the divorce papers to be served on the Respondent.


    Application the Decree Nisi

    If the divorce is undefended, the Petitioner will then file a statement in support of divorce and apply for the Decree Nisi. If the Acknowledgement of Service is personally signed by the Respondent, the Petitioner will attach it and confirm identification of their signature.


    Divorce papers are considered by a Judge

    The divorce papers will then be considered by a Judge. If they’re accepted, the application will be listed for a hearing to pronounce the Decree Nisi. The parties aren’t normally required to attend this hearing, unless one person is defending the divorce or there is a dispute as to costs.


    Application for a Decree Absolute

    Upon the Decree Nisi being granted, the Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute - the final decree whereby the marriage is dissolved - after a minimum period of six weeks and one day from receiving. This usually takes a couple of days. However, this is usually delayed until the financial settlement has been approved by the Court


    The marriage is dissolved

    Once the Decree Absolute has been granted, the marriage is dissolved and the parties return to “single” status. They are free to marry again if they choose to do so.

It’s important to note that whilst the Decree Absolute legally ends your marriage, it does not end the matrimonial financial commitments, and without a Financial Order from the Court, your ex could make a claim against you at any point in the future.

Do I Need a Divorce Solicitor?

The divorce process can be undertaken without a Solicitor. However, it’s recommended that you do seek legal advice, as often mistakes can be made on the forms (which will be rejected and returned) which can raise costs and cause delays.

In addition, financial and children proceedings can arise from the divorce which will also require legal advice. It’s therefore well worth getting representation from one of our specialist Divorce Solicitors, as we can assist with this process and any contingent proceedings to ensure your aims are met.

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