A Guide to Divorce in England and Wales
Not all marriages live happily ever after and there comes a time when divorce becomes inevitable. Many people are unsure of how to go about getting a divorce in England and Wales and this guide will give you an idea of what you have to do.
What steps must I take now that I have finally decided to get a divorce?
To get a divorce in England and Wales you must fill in a form called a ‘petition’, which you then take to any divorce county court. If you live in London, you can take it to the Principal Registry.
How long must I have been married before I can get a divorce?
To get a divorce you must have been married for more than one year.
What reasons do I need to get a divorce?
You must prove to the court that you have good grounds for wanting a divorce and they will accept at least one of the following reasons:
You have proof that your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him/her.
Adultery means that your spouse has had a sexual relationship with a third party of the opposite sex. If the sexual relationship was with someone of the same sex then that is not regarded as adultery but unreasonable behaviour. You must file for divorce within six months of discovering the adultery unless you stopped living together after discovering it.
It will have no bearing on the court’s decisions concerning children, assets or any other judgements which one of you committed adultery.
Your spouse’s behaviour has been so unreasonable that you cannot bear to live with them any longer.
In the last few years, a large proportion of divorces in the UK have been granted due to ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and because these types of divorces are usually granted quite quickly, they have become a popular way for couples to get divorced.
You must file for divorce on these grounds within six months of the incident of intolerable behaviour occurring which is quite reasonable if you think about it, after all it is not fair to use this reason for something, which may have happened a long time ago and hasn’t happened since.
Your spouse deserted you at least two years ago.
It is sometimes difficult to prove that a spouse deliberately deserted their partner and not simply away for legitimate reasons and could not contact them.
You and your spouse have lived apart for at least two years and that he or she agrees to a divorce.
If both of you can prove that you have lived apart for at least two years and that you want an amicable divorce then one of you can file for divorce.
You and your spouse have lived apart continuously for at least five years.
If the continuous separation of five years can be proven, then consent is not necessary from the other partner.
Must I live in England or Wales to get a divorce here?
- You and your husband or wife, must both have your permanent homes in England or Wales when the petition is started; or
- You and your husband or wife must both be living in England or Wales when the petition is started; or
- You and your husband or wife must both have had your last home in England or Wales and one of you must still be living in either of these countries when the petition is started; or
- Your husband or wife must be living in England or Wales when the petition is started; or
- You must have been living in England or Wales for at least a year on the day the petition is started; or
- You must have your permanent home in England or Wales and have been living in either of these countries for at least six months on the day the petition is started.
You may also get a divorce in England and Wales in other specific circumstances. You should contact a solicitor, law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau if you need help deciding which statement applies to you.
Do I really need a divorce lawyer?
In simple divorce cases where both partners can come to an amicable agreement then you may not need the services of a divorce lawyer but as many divorces have complicated situations to deal with such as financial support, child custody, property etc., then it is advisable to seek the advice of a good divorce lawyer at the outset.