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As divorce specialists, our aim is to make the process of divorce as straight-forward as possible. We will provide sound legal advice on your situation and explain all the options open to you.
Whilst the process of getting a UK divorce can be quite simple, agreeing a financial settlement, dividing property and matters involving children can be more difficult to resolve. It is important that you have access to information and advice so that you make informed choices.
Having dealt with thousands of divorces we know that every relationship is different and needs to be dealt with on an individual basis. That’s why we allocate an experienced lawyer to handle your case from start to finish.
Grounds for Divorce
To apply to get a divorce under the laws of England and Wales you must have been married for more than one year and you will be required to demonstrate good reasons for wanting to end your marriage.
There are 5 reasons that can be used (known as facts in law but generally referred to as the grounds for divorce) which demonstrate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
You need to give one of the following reasons:
This involves showing that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you can no longer live with them. If you are using this ground for divorce you will be required to note in the divorce petition examples of their behaviour.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the court doesn’t insist on severe allegations of unreasonable behaviour in order to grant a divorce. Relatively mild allegations such as devoting too much time to a career, having no common interests or pursuing a separate social life may suffice. Using mild allegations may make it easier to agree the contents of the petition with your husband or wife and avoid prolonged debate about the divorce grounds.
Unreasonable behaviour is now the most common ground used to apply for divorce in England and Wales.
You must prove through actual admission or through sufficient circumstantial evidence that your husband or wife has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to go on living with them. If a sexual liaison short of sexual intercourse has taken place, it is suggested that the unreasonable behaviour ground is used instead.
If you carry on living with your husband or wife for more than 6 months after you found out about their adultery you can’t give adultery as the reason for your divorce.
The person who has committed adultery cannot use this ground.
Two years’ separation
You have lived apart for at least two years and you both agree to the divorce. Agreement must be in writing.
Five years’ separation
You have lived apart for at least five years. In this instance, you do not need the agreement of your husband or wife.
This is where your spouse has left you without your agreement for a continuous period of at least two years. This fact is almost never used.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
If the case is straightforward and you are both in agreement a divorce will normally take between 6 and 8 months. The time taken is largely determined by how quickly the courts process the paperwork. The process of obtaining a divorce is explained in How to get a divorce in the UK.
Does it matter who starts the divorce?
There are a number of things to consider here:
Cost – the person who starts the divorce pays court fees. If you are in agreement about getting a divorce you may choose to share all of the costs involved, therefore this would not be a factor.
Legal jurisdiction – If you or your partner might be able to apply for divorce in another country it could be very important who applies as in some countries the law allows for more favourable settlements or treats the care of children from a marriage differently. This could mean you need to be the one to start the divorce, so that you choose which country’s laws apply.
What if I don’t agree to the divorce?
You can object to the grounds on which a divorce is being sought. This is known as contesting a divorce and is explained in our Contested divorce explained blog post.
It is not uncommon for people to disagree with the reasons for divorce stated on the divorce petition, however this rarely results in a fully contested divorce being dealt with in court hearings. It is more common for this to be sorted out in correspondence between the parties and their solicitors.
Will I have to appear in court to get a divorce?
In the case of an uncontested divorce you will not be required to appear in Court. A court appearance will only normally be necessary if you cannot agree a financial settlement and the case goes to a hearing or if you cannot agree the arrangements for looking after your children.