You have to be able to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down on the basis of one of the following facts:-

  • Adultery – you do not have to name the third party (the co-respondent)
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with the other party’s consent
  • Five years separation without consent



Divorce ends the marriage and frees the parties to remarry. 

Remember that it effects entitlements to benefits and pension and also has significant implications for Wills, housing and finances.

If a divorce is not defended, you can expect the divorce to be finalised within four to six months, although each case varies.

If a divorce is not defended, it is not usual for either party to have to attend court.

The Steps:-

  • Either party in the marriage can file for divorce – the person who files the divorce petition is the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent.
  • The Petitioner files the petition at court, together with a Statement of Arrangements for Children (if there are children of the marriage), certification regarding reconciliation and a fee (or a fees exempt form).
  • The court issues the papers and serves them on the Respondent.
  • The Respondent has 7 days in which to file and Acknowledgement of Service.
  • On receipt of the Acknowledgement of Service, and where the Respondent does not intend to defend the petition, the Petitioner swears an affidavit and applies for Directions for Trial.
  • If the judge is satisfied that the Petitioner has sufficiently proved the grounds for divorce, he/she sets the date for pronouncement of the Decree Nisi.
  • The judge will also indicate what costs orders (if any) he/she intends to make against the Respondent.
  • 6 weeks and 1 day after the Decree Nisi is pronounced, the Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute.
  • If the Petitioner does not apply, then the Respondent can apply for a Decree Absolute 3 months after the earliest date on which the Petitioner could apply.


In order to obtain a divorce you must have been married for at least one year and comply with strict rules of residence within England and Wales.

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