A Guide to the Divorce Process in England and Wales
The first step in any divorce procedure is the filing of the divorce petition (form D8), once the court send your spouse a copy of the petition, you become the Petitioner and your ex-partner becomes known as the Respondent.
Your marriage needs to have lasted for at least 1 year before you can file for divorce.
To start the process of divorce, you must have valid grounds for divorce and live in England or Wales (or see England or Wales as your permanent home if you live abroad)
The process of getting a divorce in Scotland is different to England & Wales.
A divorce when both parties are in agreement and the paperwork is signed and returned efficiently can be completed without hiring a solicitor within 18-22 weeks.
You will need to establish one or more of the following five facts in order to complete the divorce petition:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- Separation of 2 years with consent
- Separation of 5 years - no consent required
We've outlined the 4 main stages of the divorce proces, which you can follow yourself to obtain a divorce.
1. File a Divorce Petition
The divorce process starts with the filing of a divorce petition, which is completed by the Petitioner and filed with a regional divorce centre.
A divorce petition form (D8) is filed at court and must set out the reason for the divorce, how you intend to deal with children and any arrangements for finances.
At this stage you'll also need to pay the court fee of £550.00 (unless you are on a low-income or receive certain benefits, as you may be entitled to court fee remission).
When submitting your divorce petition, you will need to provide the court with your marriage certificate. If you were married abroad, the certificate must be translated into English before divorce proceedings can commence.
The D8 divorce petition is the main document in the divorce procedure and is therefore essential that you complete this document correctly.
2. Acknowlegement of Service
The court will then send a copy of the divorce petition form to your spouse with an acknowledgement of service form that they need to complete and return within 7 days.
The acknowledgement of service form confirms to the court that;
- your spouse has received the divorce papers
- they are happy with the reasons for divorce and wording used
- whether they agree to the divorce or want to contest it
If your spouse needs assistance in completing the form to make sure it's sent back to the courts correctly, they should look at a respondent in divorce service.
3. Decree Nisi
You can then apply for the Decree Nisi (the first decree), which is a document that states that the court cannot see a reason why you can't divorce.
If the judge see’s no reason why your divorce cannot go ahead, your decree nisi will become pronounced and a pronouncement date will be set.
You can then apply for the final decree 6 weeks and 1 day after the pronouncement date.
4. Application for Decree Absolute
You must apply to the court 6 weeks after your decree nisi has been pronounced for your divorce to become final.
An application for the decree absolute typically takes 2 weeks, which will then formally and legally end your marriage.
Divorce-Online can help you with the divorce process
Divorce-Online have helped over 150,000+ couples in England and Wales obtain a quick, easy and affordable divorce, by taking away the need to instruct solicitors for your case.
If there is agreement then there is no need to spend thousands hiring a solicitor to handle what is mainly an administrative procedure.
We can help you complete your divorce within 16 weeks from as little as £59, including advising you on choosing the right reason to base your divorce on.
How long does a typical divorce process take to complete?
A typical online amicable divorce where both parties have agreed to the divorce and the grounds for divorce they wish to file upon, usually takes 4-6 months.
Unfortunately, as a divorce is a legal procedure there is no definitive timetable for a divorce to complete within. Things that can delay the divorce being made absolute can include;
- Delays at the court
- Delays in returning paperwork back to the court
- Delays in sending paperwork to the court
- Delays in your spouse responding to paperwork
One of the main reasons our Managed Divorce Service usually completes within 16-18 weeks is because of our efficient staff and our relationship with the courts, which allows us to proceed quickly with the next stage of your divorce process.