I want to get a divorce – what do I need to do?

Divorce is not a situation many people plan to be in and, as such, it is common to feel unprepared when faced with it. While divorce is often a complex and emotional process, understanding the steps that need to be taken can help you feel more in control.

This article will give a brief outline of the divorce process but for further information please download our full guide here, or get in touch with a member of our team who will be happy to help.

Legal basis for getting divorced

To get a divorce in England and Wales, you must first show that you have been married for at least 12 months and that the marriage has irretrievably broken down (meaning the relationship is definitely completely over) for one of the following reasons:

• Adultery
• Unreasonable behaviour
• Desertion (meaning your spouse left without your agreement for at least two years within the last two and a half years)
• Separation for at least two years (if you both agree to the divorce)
• Separation for at least five years (with no need for your ex-partner’s agreement).

It should be noted that ‘no-fault divorces’ should be brought into law in autumn 2021, which will replace these five options with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

You must also be living in the country when you apply for divorce, or have been living in the country within the year before the application is made.

The process for getting divorced

Once you have established that you are able to get divorced you can begin the process.

The first step is sending to the family court a ‘Divorce Petition’. The court will then send this to your ex-partner, who must respond by sending back an Acknowledgement of Service’ to the court.

Once this has been completed, you can apply for a ‘Decree Nisi’ which is confirmation that the legal criteria for a divorce have been met. Six weeks and one day after this you are permitted to apply for a ‘Decree Absolute’ which is the final court order that formally ends your marriage – completing your divorce.

This process often takes between four and six months but can vary drastically depending on your individual circumstances. While the above outlines the legal steps that must be taken, there is often much more to be considered during the divorce process such as agreeing child arrangements, dividing assets or handling disagreements. In these situations, working with a solicitor can help guide you through the process.

Handling complications

When picturing the divorce process many couples conjure up worrying images of headaches, late nights and courtroom drama, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Whether its mediation, arbitration or collaborative law there are a number of options available to minimise the likelihood of you having to attend court. As members of Resolution, an organisation dedicated to taking a constructive approach to family issues, our team are on hand to help you find a positive solution wherever possible.

Get in touch

If you’re facing divorce and feeling overwhelmed, remember you are not alone. Our experienced solicitors are here to support you through the process. Whether you’re ready to proceed now or have questions about your situation, our team offer free 20 minute consultations. Get in touch today to book yours.