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    Common questions

     For questions on unmarried financial disputes click here. 

    There is only one ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is proved by reference to either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation or desertion.  

    The process is now all online. Either you can do this yourself or we can manage it for you. There is a court fee of £550 to pay.

    The court will issue your petition, and your spouse must then complete the acknowledgement of service within a specified timeframe.

    Providing this has been completed, you can apply to court for your decree nisi.

    A judge will then consider your divorce petition, confirm that you are entitled to a divorce, and issue your decree nisi. This is the first of two decrees. It is at this stage that the court can approve any financial agreement reached between you and your spouse.

    Six weeks and one day following decree nisi, or when your finances have been agreed if later, you can apply for decree absolute. This is the final decree, and legally ends your marriage.

    The above is based on a typical divorce. There can be complications if, for example, your spouse doesn’t return the acknowledgement of service.

    In order to obtain a divorce you must show the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To do this you must demonstrate to the court that one of the following five specific circumstances exists:

    • Adultery
    • Unreasonable behaviour
    • Two years’ separation – with your spouse’s consent
    • Five years’ separation
    • Two years’ desertion.

    As indicated above, the law is changing and it will soon be possible to obtain a divorce without alleging any fault.


    If you and your spouse agree to apply for divorce, then you can apply after you have been separated for 2 years. One of you starts the divorce and the other provides their consent to it. You need to demonstrate to the court that you have been living separately. This can be in the same property but you must be in separate households. This means living separately, cooking your own meals and doing your own laundry, for example.

    Separation on an informal basis

    You and your spouse make the decision to separate and agree between you what financial arrangements are going to be in place during your separation.

    Separation supported by a separation agreement

    A separation agreement is drawn up by solicitors which sets out the agreed financial arrangements for the period of separation.

    The agreement would usually set out how you would like your finances to be divided should you subsequently decide to divorce. On a subsequent divorce, the court is not obliged to follow the terms of the agreement, but it is a significant factor the court would take into consideration, especially if the agreement has been negotiated between solicitors and supported by financial disclosure from you both.

    Judicial separation

    This is a formal separation recognised by the court. The process is similar to the divorce process, in that a petition for judicial separation is submitted based on similar reasons as for divorce, as set out above. You do not, however, have to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

    A decree of judicial separation does not end the marriage. The court is able to make many of the same financial orders that can be made on divorce, save that it cannot make orders in relation to pension sharing.

    Applications for judicial separation are rare, and may often arise where there are strong cultural or religious reasons for not wishing to divorce

    Typically, a straightforward, undefended divorce takes between 4 to 6 months from issuing the divorce petition at court to obtaining the decree absolute. Other than the compulsory delay of 6 weeks between decree nisi and decree absolute, it can take some time for the court to process the paperwork and for your spouse to return the documentation required.

    This period can therefore take less time if your spouse agrees and cooperates, and the court deals with the paperwork efficiently.  

    For more information click here. 

    No. There are other options if you are not sure whether you want to end your marriage. We can discuss these at length with you and you can take your time to consider your options. We have set out some of the options below.

    What can we help with?


    We are both experienced and sensitive and will explain your options and their consequences clearly and carefully.
    Read more

    Financial claims

    Divorces can be extremely complex and specialist legal expertise is advisable to untangle your finances
    Read more


    We can guide you through legal issues involving your children
    Read more

    Unmarried disputes

    There may be property claims that can be made on your behalf, or claims for additional provision for your children
    Read more

    Domestic abuse

    We have a wealth of experience in assisting both victims and alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse.
    Read more

    Alternatives to court

    We advocate the use of alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve family disputes.
    Read more

    Don't just take our word for it...