What happens during a divorce in England and Wales?

You can’t apply for a divorce unless you have been married for a year. However, if you have been married for a year or longer and have made the difficult step of deciding to end your marriage, even though you might want to go your separate ways there are many months ahead to extract yourself financially from your matrimonial contract.

Firstly, if you are planning on ending a marriage, it is important to know that all divorces are different and will take varying lengths of time depending on a couple’s circumstances, which could be any of the following:

  • Whether you have children together
  • If you have been married for a short time with no children, little property and few debts
  • If both parties agree to the divorce
  • If one party agrees to the divorce but the other is shocked about the move
  • If one or both parties choose to fight over every aspect of the divorce

There are a number of stages all divorces go through but the main ones are:

  • Filing a petition
  • Applying for a Decree Nisi
  • Applying for a Decree Absolute

What do I have to prove to be granted a divorce?

You need to show that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. One of the list below will need to be proven:

  • One party has committed adultery
  • Your spouse has behaved unreasonably
  • You have lived apart for two years and you both agree to the divorce
  • You have lived apart for five years and one of you does not agree to the divorce
  • Your partner deserted you at least two years ago

If you are the one who files for divorce you are known as the petitioner and your spouse is known as the respondent.

Talk to one of our expert team to help you with the next step.

How to file a divorce petition

  • Firstly, we shall need your Marriage Certificate to start the process of filing a divorce in a County Court, usually the nearest one to you, for your convenience.
  • Once the forms are completed we can serve the divorce petition notice to your spouse but it is worth discussing with them a draft of the document beforehand.
  • We will then deal with your spouse’s response.

How to apply for a Decree Nisi

This is a form-filling process that we can help you with. The relevant forms are:

  • D84, which is the Application for a Decree Nisi
  • Form D80A to D80E – a Statement in support of divorce/dissolution/judicial review
  • Once these have been completed, we will send them to court and if your divorce is undefended, it will be looked at by a judge who will decide whether there are grounds for divorce; and if you have children, that the arrangements are appropriate for them.
  • If the judge believes you do have grounds for divorce, your Decree Nisi will be sent to you. This can take around two months from the date the application is filed.
  • You are not divorced until your Decree Absolute is issued. If you are the petitioner, we can help you apply for this six weeks and one day after your Decree Nisi is issued, but not before.
  • But if you are the respondent, you cannot apply for the Decree Absolute until four and a half months after the Decree Nisi is issued.

Divorce is just one aspect that our team of experts handle. Please contact us about divorce or one of the following:

  • Legal separation agreements
  • Mediation
  • Disputes involving children
  • Property issues including cohabitee disputes
  • Cohabitation agreements
  • Child maintenance and spousal maintenance
  • Dissolution of civil partnerships
  • Family businesses
  • Asset preservation
  • Domestic violence and injunctions
  • Buying or selling a home
  • Wills

We also offer home visits to the elderly, infirm and disabled and can provide large print leaflets on request.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.