In the UK, you can get a divorce if you have been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down. You must have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK and have a permanent home in England or Wales.

The Steps of the Divorce Process

There are four main steps to getting divorced:

  1. File a divorce petition: you have to apply to the court for permission to divorce and show reasons why you want the marriage to end. Generally accepted reasons to file for divorce are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation (no consent needed). You will need to provide proof to support these reasons. Once the petition has been completed, it will need to be filed at court – this process costs £500.
  2. Serve the divorce petition: once your petition has been received by the court, you will receive a copy of the petition plus a form called an Acknowledgement of Service of Form D10. The Acknowledgement of Service must be signed by your ex-partner, the petition’s recipient, before the divorce process can proceed. Only once the signed Acknowledgement of Service has been returned to the court can you proceed to apply for a decree nisi.
  3. Apply for a decree nisi: to apply for a decree nisi, you will need to complete two forms: a form D84 and a Statement of Support. The Statement of Support should confirm that everything included in your petition, including the reason for divorce, is true. It also needs to include the signed Acknowledgement of Service from your ex-partner.
  4. Apply for a decree absolute: this legally ends your marriage – you need to wait six weeks after you get the decree nisi before you can apply. Your ex-partner, the petitioner’s respondent, needs to wait an additional six months after the initial six-week period before they can apply. Once the court has checked that the legal time limits have been met and that there is no reason the divorce shouldn’t be granted, you will receive copies of the decree absolute which officially ends your marriage.

Our UK divorce process infographic explains this process in a clear and logical manner and outlines the steps that you might need to take after your divorce has been granted.