act of obtaining a divorce in the United Kingdom, from a legal standpoint, is quite straightforward, especially if both you and your partner have concluded that the marriage has run its course.
Complications tend to arise when sorting out the practical side of the living arrangments, care of children and financial settlement.
Our family law team, led by Nighat Sultana, understands that getting a divorce is not simply a legal procedure; it is a life-changing event. Nighat and her team follow the Resolution ethos of family law, which encourages family matters to be settled as amicably as possible, without the involvement of the Courts.
A Brief Guide to the Divorce Procedure in England and Wales
To obtain a divorce in the UK, you must have been married for a year or more, you must show that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ due to one of the following factors:
Adultery – Unreasonable behaviour – Desertion – Separation for two years or more with your spouse consenting to the divorce – Separation for five years or more
Petition for Divorce and Service of Documents
Once you have established grounds for divorce, you need to lodge a petition for divorce in the Family Court and serve notice on your estranged spouse (known as the Respondent), either in person or by post. Evidence of service must be shown to the Court by the producing of an Acknowledgment of Service Form signed by the Respondent or their Solicitor. Alternatively, a statement from a process server confirming that the Respondent has received the paperwork will suffice.
Defended and Undefended Divorces
Very few divorces in the UK are defended and even fewer are defended successfully. If the Respondent decides to defend their position, they must file a response to the grounds for divorce laid out in the petition, within the prescribed time limit.
If the divorce is undefended and all the procedural requirements have been met, the District Court Judge will approve the petition for a Decree Nisi.
What is a Decree Nisi?
The Decree Nisi is a conditional divorce. When you are granted a Decree Nisi you will remain married but it means that the Judge is satisfied that you are entitled to a divorce.
What is a Decree Absolute?
The Decree Absolute is the legal certificate that brings your marriage to an end. You can apply for the Decree Absolute as soon as six weeks and one day has elapsed since the date of the Decree Nisi. Sometimes it is sensible to wait until any financial issues have been resolved before applying for the Decree Absolute. We will discuss the timing of your application with you so that you can make an informed decision about when to formally end the marriage.
Making it Easy for You and Your Family
Our family team have the expertise and experience to ensure your divorce runs as stress-free and amicably as possible. We will help you organise your priorities around how you both want to arrange care for your children and the fair splitting of the marital assets and wealth.