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How to get a UK divorce - The divorce process explained

To get a UK divorce you must have been married for more than one year. The procedure for obtaining a divorce under the divorce law of England and Wales follows a sequential set of steps with various documents completed and filed at Court. Problems tend to arise when documents are completed incorrectly or there is disagreement between the parties involved.

If you appoint iDivorces to handle your divorce your lawyer will complete all the paperwork on your behalf, provide advice and guidance at each of the steps and where necessary handle communication with your spouse and the solicitors on the other side of your case. This is covered in our fixed price divorce service.



The Divorce Process


Step one – filing the divorce application

This step is the request to the court to start a divorce. The application contains the details of both parties and the reason for seeking the divorce – which has to be one of the five Grounds for Divorce.

The person applying for the divorce is referred to as the Applicant. The other party is referred to as the Respondent. If there is a third party, they are referred to as a Co-Respondent.

The divorce application, together with the marriage certificate and a £550.00 Court fee, are sent to the Court to start the divorce process.


Step two – service of the application

The Court checks the documentation and if they are satisfied that it complies with all the requirements they officially ‘issue’ the divorce application and send it to the Respondent along with a form for the Respondent to complete and return to the Court. This form is known as the Acknowledgement of Service form.


Step three – acknowledging service of the application

The Respondent is required to return the form to the Court within 7 days, indicating whether or not they wish to dispute the divorce proceedings. If they do want to dispute it they have to file another form called an ‘Answer’ within 28 days of receiving the Application.


Step four – confirming the facts in your application

The Court will send a copy of the Acknowledgement of Service form to the Applicant, who must then swear an Affidavit (the legal term for a written statement sworn under oath to be true) confirming the facts in the original Application. The Affidavit is sent to the Court with the signed Acknowledgement of Service.


Step five – pronouncement of decree nisi

If the Court are happy with all the documentation they will set a date on which the Decree Nisi will be pronounced in Court. It is not usually necessary for the parties to attend Court to hear the decree nisi being pronounced, unless there is a dispute over a cost order.


Step six – application for the decree absolute

Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is pronounced the Applicant can apply for the Decree Absolute. There is a standard application form. Only once this has been granted and sealed are the parties officially divorced.

If the Applicant fails to apply for the Decree Absolute the Respondent can apply 3 months later.


Step seven – receipt of the decree absolute

Only once the Decree Absolute has been granted and sealed by the Court are the parties officially divorced. This is an important document and it should be kept in a safe place.


How long does a divorce take?

In a straight-forward case where both parties agree the grounds for divorce and complete and return paperwork quickly a case takes on average 4 – 6 months, and neither party has to appear in court at any stage.

If the parties cannot agree or delays are made in the completion and return of papers to the Courts this can extend the time it takes to complete a divorce.


Need further advice?

To discuss your particular circumstances call 01872 309222 and speak to one of our specialist divorce advisers.