Getting a Divorce in the UK: The Basics

Getting a Divorce in the UK: The Basics

Couple arguing in front of a lawyerAround 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. Reasons for divorce include adultery, marrying too soon, unreasonable behaviour and excessive arguing. Divorce lawyers in London can help couples legally end a failed marriage.

Couples may divorce within Britain if they have a legally recognised UK marriage and it lasted at least one year. The person petitioning for divorce must also be able to prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.

Reasons for Divorce

The person filing divorce can declare irretrievable breakdown for the following reasons:

- An extra-marital affair

- Unreasonable behaviour (such as excessive drinking, drug taking, gambling or violence)

- Desertion (when a partner has left and not returned for a period of at least two years)

- Two years separation (if partners have been living separately for two years and both parties consent to a divorce, they can get something called a ‘no fault divorce’)

- Five years separation (if partners have been separated for five years, but only one wants a divorce and if the other does not give consent, a divorce can only take place after they have lived separately for five years)

The Process of Divorce

The person seeking divorce files a petitioner called a matrimonial order. This is then sent to their husband or wife, who has to acknowledge them. If the respondent opposes the divorce, they then have three weeks to give their reasons to the court.

If they agree to divorce, they can use the opportunity to make a counterclaim (for example, adultery). The petitioner or applicant then applies for a decree nisi form as well as a statement outlining the grounds for divorce and the respondent’s views.

If no one opposes the divorce, a judge can grant a decree nisi without court appearance. Six weeks after the decree nisi, the applicant can apply for a decree absolute. Once this has been received, the marriage is officially over.

A solicitor can help their clients navigate through the divorce process and advocate for them through their difficult time.

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