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What is the 5 years separation divorce rule?

5 years separation is one of five available grounds for divorce that you can use to show why your marriage has irretrievably broken down in England or Wales.

If there is an agreement to the divorce and parties are in contact, it can be a quick and easy way to end your marriage with no hostility or blaming one another.

If there’s communication and a level of agreement to the divorce then you can obtain a divorce without needing the assistance of a divorce solicitor, which can help you keep the costs for your divorce down.

However, there can be complications to using 5 years separation as your reason for divorce if you don’t have an address for your spouse or they are unlikely to cooperate.

It’s fairly common for couples that don’t have children together to lose contact, especially after 5 or 10 years. Not knowing where your ex-partner lives will make obtaining a divorce more complicated, but it can still be done without needing to spend thousands on solicitors fees.

It’s important to stress that even without the consent or agreement from your spouse, the divorce can be granted when based on 5 years separation, you may just be required to jump through another procedural hoop.

It is a myth that you can just get a divorce after five years of separation without your spouse being involved.

If you can’t locate your ex-partner then you must show the court that you have done your utmost to find them. This does mean that unfortunately, there is no such thing as an automatic divorce, even if you have been separated 15+ years.

You cannot simply divorce without the other party, despite what you may think or have been told.

The quickest and easiest way to obtain a divorce after 5 years separation is to use our Managed Divorce Service for £189, which is for couples that know where their ex-partner lives and are likely to cooperate.

How it works – If your ex-partner won’t cooperate

If your ex-partner decides not to cooperate then you’ll need to prove to the court that they have been served with the divorce petition.

You will need to ask the court to serve them personally or hire a private process server to serve the papers to your spouse. This sounds complicated to most people, but it’s a very straightforward step.

The court service is £100 and most private process servers charge £100-£150. Both services will enable you to move forward with your divorce, however, the process service option is usually quicker.

Once your ex-partner has been served by either of these services, you can then submit a statement of service and your decree nisi application.

This will prove to the court that your spouse has personally been served the divorce petition, which means that you can continue with your divorce proceedings.

How it works – If you don’t have an address for your spouse

Your ex-partner must be given the opportunity to respond to the divorce petition, regardless if you have been separated for 10+ years.

Therefore, for this to happen you must prove to the court that you have tried locating your spouse through a range of different means, e.g. social media, family, friends and sometimes even national records.

Unfortunately, this is where getting a divorce based on 5 years separation becomes more stressful and costly.

There are 3 valid options available for you to follow if you don’t have an address for your husband or wife;

  1. Apply for a court order against a government department to give up the address of your spouse if they are believed to be in the UK.
  2. Apply to dispense with service if your spouse lives abroad. You still must show that you’ve tried to locate your spouse in this situation.
  3. If you know the address of a close relative or work colleague, you can ask the court for the divorce papers to be served via someone else.

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How it works – If your spouse will agree to the divorce

If you have an address for your spouse and they are likely to respond to the divorce petition things become much quicker and easier and therefore, cheaper.

The divorce procedure will be the exact same as all other grounds when there is cooperation and in most cases, you can obtain a divorce in 5-6 months.

If you are on low income or benefits you may be exempt from paying the court fees which are set by the government and currently stand at £550.

There are, of course, faster and slower ways to obtain a divorce. Fast being our Managed Divorce Service for £189; This typically completes within 20 weeks and includes us dealing with the courts and judge on your behalf.

You will not need to attend a court hearing at any point or take any time off work to visit our offices.

Everything is dealt with for you right from the start, up until you receive your decree absolute through the post.

How it works – Finances in a divorce after 5 years

Finances are often a sticking point in divorce as couples have disputes over property, money, pensions and other assets.

If you are still in contact with your spouse and have agreed on a financial settlement, you can apply to the court to make that arrangement legally binding.

If you have any questions about dealing with your finances when going through a divorce, then please call us for free on 01793 384 029.

It is common for parties to lose communication after separating, especially when there are no children or assets such as properties within the marriage.

It’s advisable to deal with your finances at the same time as your divorce as obtaining a decree absolute does not sever your financial relationship as husband or wife.

You can apply to the court to make a financial order if you don’t have an address for your ex-partner or if there Is no agreement.

The application fee is £255 and you may be asked to attend court hearings to discuss your finances, however, it is the only way to legally divide your assets and money.

Obtaining a financial order will prevent all future and further claims and gives both parties peace of mind over their finances following a divorce.

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Commonly Asked Questions…

How long do you have to be separated to be automatically divorced?

In the UK, there is, unfortunately, no such thing as an automatic divorce and regardless of the grounds for divorce, a divorce must be processed through the court and granted by a judge.

The respondent needs to also be given the opportunity to see the divorce petition.

Can I divorce my husband or wife without their consent?

Yes, you can divorce your husband or wife in England or Wales without their consent, but only once you’ve been separated for a period of 5 years.

It is not possible to divorce your spouse without their consent, prior to this period of separation.

What happens if I don’t have my husband’s address?

To file for divorce using 5 years separation you must have an address for your spouse, as even though you’ve been separated for over 5 years, your ex-partner still must have an opportunity to see the divorce petition.

If you don’t have an address for your ex-partner, you can ask the court to help you find one.

Does being separated longer make divorce quicker?

It doesn’t is the quick answer. Typically the quickest divorce cases are based on 2 years separation with consent.

Sometimes the longer you have been separated can make the divorce process slower as there are more complications with finding your ex-partner and then making additional applications to the court before they can grant your divorce.

How Divorce-Onlne.co.uk can help you

With Divorce-Online it need not be expensive to get a divorce using the 5-year separation rule.

We are the ONLY online divorce company to offer a fixed fee service for people wishing to divorce their spouse when they don’t have an address for them.

These include things such as what you have done to locate your husband or wife and whether they can be found through national insurance records.

We will provide these applications for you as part of our service.

It is a good idea to call us on 01793 394 029 first to go through your individual circumstances, to ensure we prepare the correct application for you.

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This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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