What is the divorce process in the UK?

The divorce process in the UK can be straightforward if both parties agree on the reasons for divorce. However, the length and complexity of the process will depend on you and your partner’s individual circumstances.

In England and Wales, you can get a divorce after being married for a year, but divorce proceedings in Scotland and Northern Ireland are different.

There are three main steps to getting divorced in England and Wales:

  1. File a divorce petition
  2. Apply for a decree nisi
  3. Apply for decree absolute

Filing for a divorce petition in the UK

A divorce petition in the UK can only be issued after being married for a year on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for one of the following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Your spouse deserted you for a continuous period of two years or more
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for two years or more and your spouse agrees to the divorce
  • You have lived apart from your spouse for five years or more (your husband or wife does not have to agree to the divorce at this stage)

Do I have to go to court to file for divorce in the UK?

You don’t necessarily have to go to court; it is possible for the court to deal with your divorce based on paperwork alone. However, this is only applicable if your divorce is straightforward and there are no disputes. Usually, you will only have to attend a hearing if the divorce or costs are contested. Regardless of whether or not you have to attend court, a Court Fee will apply.

Applying for decree nisi

Once your spouse has acknowledged service of your divorce petition and accepted that the marriage has irretrievably broken down you can apply for a decree nisi.

On pronouncement of decree nisi you will have to wait a minimum of six weeks and one day before you can apply for a decree absolute to officially end the marriage.

Applying for decree absolute

You can only apply for a decree absolute in the UK once you have been granted a decree nisi from the courts. When you have this you have to wait at least six weeks and one day before you can apply for the next and final stage of the divorce proceedings. A decree absolute is a legal document that officially ends your marriage. Once you have been granted the decree absolute you are officially no longer married and are free to re-marry.

If your spouse started the divorce but has not applied for a decree absolute, you can apply for it yourself, but you will have to wait an extra three months on top of the standard six weeks and one day stated by the court.

If you need trusted and compassionate legal advice on your UK divorce then contact Barber & Co. We have highly qualified family law solicitors in Preston, Darwen and Ramsbottom.