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Divorce & Dissolution of Civil Partnership


There is only one ground of divorce (the law on marriage and civil partnerships is essentially the same with a few minor terminology differences), which is ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ due to one or more of 5 facts:

  • Unreasonable behaviour

  • Adultery (does not apply to civil partnerships unless it is committed with opposite sex)

  • Living apart for 2 years (agreed by both parties)

  • Living apart for 5 years

  • Desertion for at least 5 years

To initiate divorce/dissolution proceedings, you must have been married for at least one year. It does not matter where in the world you were married, but you can only apply for a divorce in England and Wales if either you or your spouse meet certain residence conditions or live in the UK.

Here is a brief outline of the process:


  1. Submit application/divorce petition can be completed online or by using form D8; pay the court fee £550 (if you are on a low income you could get help with your fees)

  2. Service of divorce papers.

  3. Other party invited to respond.

  4. Application for Decree Nisi, this means the court agrees you can have a divorce, but it is not finalised.

  5. Minimum of 6 weeks and 1 day apply for Decree Absolute (this part should be delayed if there are financial proceedings).

  6. Decree absolute granted.

The time limit can be anything from 6 months onwards depending on child or financial issues. It’s important to remember that child arrangements and financial arrangements have separate procedures however you should indicate in your application if you will be applying for financial relief. If you have been married for less than one year you can apply for your marriage to be annulled under certain circumstances.  

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