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What Is Mutual Consent Divorce & How Can I Get One?

Are you on speaking terms with your ex-husband or wife and want a mutual divorce? Learn the steps involved with getting a mutual divorce in England and Wales.

Table Of Contents

    What is a mutual consent divorce?

    The precise meaning of a mutual consent divorce has always been rather subjective.

    Some thought it referred to a situation where the husband and wife had both mutually and amicably decided they would like to end their marriage and so wanted a mutual consent divorce.

    Another meaning was that, irrespective of whether both partners wanted to separate, both agreed that a divorce was inevitable. For example, one spouse did not want to split up but still accepted the decision of their partner.

    This essentially was one of the main problems with the old divorce process, because from a legal standpoint, prior to the divorce law change in the UK there was no option to apply for anything called ‘mutual divorce’.

    At that time, there was only one valid reason or ‘ground’ for divorce: the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. In order to prove that a marriage had irretrievably broken down, one of the following five ‘facts’ was chosen to initiate the divorce application:

    • Adultery
    • Unreasonable Behaviour
    • Desertion
    • 2-year separation with consent
    • 5-year separation without consent

    The closest option to ‘mutual divorce’ was the ‘Separated for 2 years with consent’ option, which meant the couple had to have been separated for at least two years with both agreeing to the divorce.

    In order to speed up the process and obtain a ‘quick divorce’ the options of adultery or unreasonable behaviour were often used by couples – even in the absence of any actual adultery or unreasonable behaviour – purely to achieve a divorce by mutual consent.

    With the introduction of the no fault divorce bill which became law in April 2022 the process has now dispensed with the aforementioned five facts, replacing them with a ‘Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown’ which can be filed jointly or by either party.

    In effect, this provides a far simpler route for mutual divorce, while also removing the ability of one spouse to contest the divorce.

    How do I get a mutual divorce in the UK?

    As we have discussed above, mutual divorce is essentially a no-fault divorce in England and Wales.

    Once a married couple has agreed they want a mutual divorce, the first step is to choose how to submit the divorce application.

    You have various options, but here’s a simple breakdown.

    1. Firstly, do you want to submit a joint application for divorce or is one person going to apply solely?
    2. Next, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to file your own divorce, get a divorce online or instruct solicitors to act for you.
    3. Here are some useful links to help guide this decision
      1. What are the benefits of getting a divorce online?
      2. Why choose Divorce-Online over doing your own divorce?
      3. How does the compare against an online divorce?
    4. Once you have decided on these methods, you’ll be ready to start your divorce.

    It’s also worth noting that if you have any financial arrangements to settle such as the division of pensions, property, savings or investments then it’s worth doing this during the divorce process.

    Agreeing to a financial settlement is the first step, but having a solicitor draw up a financial consent order and having a court approve it are the steps you need to take to make it legally binding.

    How long does a mutual divorce take in the UK?

    There are 8 steps involved with the new divorce procedure for a no-fault divorce:

    1. STEP 1 – You start the divorce petition
    2. STEP 2 – The court sends your partner a copy of the divorce petition and an Acknowledgement of Service (AOS) to be returned within 14 days. A 20-week reflection period then starts
    3. STEP 3 – You apply for the conditional order
    4. STEP 4 – The court reviews your application
    5. STEP 5 – The court grants the conditional order. This starts a 6-week cooling off period before moving onto the next step
    6. STEP 6 – Application for a financial order. You can submit your financial consent order to the court for their approval
    7. STEP 7 – You apply for the final order
    8. STEP 8 – The court grants the final order, and you are officially divorced

    Looking at these steps, how long does a divorce typically take? In truth, a divorce will roughly take 6-7 months to complete if there are no delays.

    How much does a mutual divorce cost?

    With the new no-fault divorce process, the cost of mutual divorce is now much cheaper than a contested divorce was previously.

    Divorce-Online offers a choice of divorce services saving the average client over £750 on the cost of their divorce.

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