UK Divorce Law

Getting a divorce in the United Kingdom can be a lengthy procedure. However, if both parties are in agreement on child custody and division of finances, solicitors are not usually required.

To file for divorce in the United Kingdom you must:

  • Have a marriage that is recognized in the U.K.
  • Have been married for at least one year.
  • Currently have a residence in the U.K.
  • Claim that the marriage has permanently broken down.

There are five grounds for divorce you can file:

divorceAdultery – One or both of the marriage partners has had sex with a member of the opposite sex who is not their spouse.

Unreasonable behavior – This can include abuse, taking drugs, alcoholism, or not helping to provide support for the household.

Desertion – If one partner left without the consent of the other and without a good reason (such as a move for a job) and they’ve been gone more than two years.

If the partners have lived apart for two years and both agree to the divorce.

If the partners lived apart for five or more years you can get a divorce even if your partner does not agree.

Three steps are required:

  1. File a divorce petition form. Turn in all the proper paperwork, including your marriage certificate, and make sure you’ve provided all the needed information. You will file this at a local divorce centre. They can tell you the amount of the fee. You can pay with credit card by phone, in person by cash or mail a cheque made out to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
  2. If your partner agrees to the divorce you can then apply for a decree nisi. You will not have to go to court. They will be sent a copy of the petition and will then have 21 days to respond. If they do not respond you can go ahead with the divorce without their consent.

If you and your partner cannot agree on child custody or finances you’ll need to seek mediation. When mediation is not successful then it will probably result in you each needing to hire a solicitor and going to court. This can be costly, so try to come to an agreement on your own if possible.

If your spouse does not agree with the divorce they can file to “defend the divorce” and they must give an answer as to why they don’t want the divorce. They will have to pay a fee. When a divorce is “defended” you will need to go to court.

When a divorce is going to court it is a good idea to seek legal representation.

  1. Six weeks after you receive the decree nisi you can apply for a decree absolute if your partner has agreed to the divorce. If they did not agree, you can still apply for the decree nisi but you will have to go to court to find out if it will be granted.

When a decree absolute is granted the marriage is officially dissolved and the parties are free to remarry.