family law

Divorce and the Divorce Process

If your marriage is at an end, you may decide to get a divorce.

The divorce process may appear complex, but our trained family law solicitors aim to make the experience as simple and pain-free as possible.

Petitioner & Respondent

The person who instigates divorce proceedings is known as the ‘Petitioner’ and the other party to the marriage is the ‘Respondent’.

If the parties are both agreed that a divorce is necessary, it does not matter too much who is the Petitioner and who is the Respondent, although it is the Petitioner who plays a larger role in the divorce process and, consequently, has higher costs. It is therefore possible to request that costs are shared between the parties.

Grounds for Divorce

The sole ground for obtaining a divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and this is done by proving one of five facts.

If you are the Petitioner you must therefore show that either:

• Your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them

• Your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them

• Your spouse has deserted you for at least 2 years

• You and your spouse have continuously lived apart for at least 2 years and your spouse consents to the divorce

• You and your spouse have continuously lived apart for at least 5 years (there is no requirement for your spouse to consent to the divorce in this case)

The Divorce Process

If you are able to prove one of the above facts, and you have been married for at least one year, you may start a divorce petition.

You send your divorce petition to the court along with your marriage certificate.

Your spouse will be sent a copy of the divorce petition by the Court and will need to complete an Acknowledgment of Service to confirm they have received your divorce petition.

The next stage is to apply for a Decree Nisi.

The Judge will grant a Decree Nisi if he is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. At this stage you are still married.

Finally, you can apply for a Decree Absolute when 6 weeks and 1 day have passed since the Decree Nisi was granted. Once the Decree Absolute has been granted, you are legally divorced.

The divorce process can take approximately 5-6 months but this timescale is largely dependent on how busy the court is at the time. Negotiation of finances may extend this timescale as you would not usually be advised to apply for a Decree Absolute until financial matters have been resolved.

Getting help

If you would like some assistance during the divorce process, our solicitors will be able to prepare all the necessary documentation and deal with all correspondence from the Court and the other party on your behalf.

We offer a fixed fee service for the divorce process only, so you will be fully aware of the cost implications from the outset.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to handle matters on your own, our solicitors are available to offer advice as and when it is required, for example by helping to prepare the divorce petition or by assisting you with financial negotiations once the divorce process is underway.

For more in-depth advice and guidance on the divorce process, please contact one of our family law solicitors on 0121 705 7571.

Note: Divorce also has implications for inheritance and property, and one of our specialist solicitors will be able to advise you further in this regard.

Further reading:

Collaborative Law and Fixed Fee Divorce (Family Law)

Mediation for family law disputes (Family Law)

Separation (Family Law)

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.