Inspiring separating couples to make their own informed decisions

Divorce & Dissolution of Civil Partnership – The Law & Procedure

If you are having problems in your marriage or partnership, you should first consider whether these difficulties can be resolved with the assistance of trained relationship counsellors. Organisations such as Relate can help you, visit for more information.

If you do decide to Divorce or dissolve your partnership, then this will be a useful  guide to help you through the process.

A Divorce cannot be applied for until the you have been married for at least 1 year.  To get a Divorce in England and Wales, the marriage must be recognised as valid by the United Kingdom law and one of the parties must:

1. Be living in England or Wales when the Divorce is applied for or;

2. Have been living in England or Wales during the year before the application is made.

The marriage or civil partnership must have broken down irretrievably and must be supported by one of the following factors:

a) Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live together (NB:this reason cannot be used in civil partnership dissolutions) or;

b) Your spouse/civil partner has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably he expected to live together or;

c) You have been separated for two years and you spouse/civil partner agrees to the Divorce or;

d) You have been separated for five years or;

e) Your spouse/civil partner has deserted you for more than two years.

If more than one of the above reasons applies you will have decide which is most suitable to your circumstances.

The Court Process:

You start the process by sending to the court the Divorce Application, your marriage certificate and Court fee, now £550.00.

Once the Divorce papers have been approved by the Court a copy of the Divorce Application will be sent to your spouse/civil partner who is then required to complete an Acknowledgment of Service Form saying whether he/she agrees to the Divorce/dissolution of the Civil Partnership.

Provided he/she does not contest it, you will then have to complete and sign a ‘statement of truth’ document confirming the facts  in your Divorce Application are true and file this with the Cour together with the application for ‘Decree Nisi’ – first stage in the Divorce proceedings. If the Court is satisfied that you should be entitled to the Decree sought, a date will be set for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi. Unless any of the Orders ( Decree Nisi or costs) are opposed, it will not be necessary for you to attend Court for the pronouncement.

Six weeks and one day after pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, the Petitioner will be able to apply for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute thus ending the marriage.

If the Divorce is defended, your matter will be more complex and directions will be made for filing of evidence and the case will be set down for trial/final hearing. If this is the case, it will be in your best interests to get legal advice from a solicitor.

You will also need to sort out financial matters on the family home, maintenance, pensions and any savings and investments. The legal term for this is “Financial Remedies” – please see the information on the page Financial Arrangements on Divorce & Dissolution of Civil Partnerships.

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