To get divorced in England and Wales, you need to have been married for more than a year and follow the divorce process.
The divorce process consists of three main stages:
filing a divorce petition form - you will need to give one or more of the 5 legal reasons for divorce: adultery; unreasonable behaviour; desertion; you have been separated for more than 2 years; you’ve been separated for at least 5 years
applying for the decree nisi - this is a document stating that the court does not see any reason why the divorce cannot proceed.
applying for the decree nisi - this is the official legal document which ends your marriage.
For more information read The divorce process.
The concept of no-fault divorce is expected to be introduced in the coming year. This will apply to both marriages and civil partnerships and will remove the need to show “fault” or evidence of the other spouse’s behaviour. However there is still no such option available if you want to get a divorce in England and Wales. For more information read our blog on no fault divorces.
To get divorced in Scotland you will need to meet the residence rules.
There are two ways to get a divorce in Scotland:
DIY divorce (simplified procedure), which you may use if you don't have any children under 16 and you agree on matters regarding finances and property
the ordinary procedure, which you will have to use if you have children under 16. This includes children of both of you, adopted children, step-children and any children who have been treated as part of the family
For both of these you will need to prove there's an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage or that one of you is applying for a gender recognition certificate. In Scotland there is an option for a no-fault divorce after one year of living apart.
If you can sort out:
who gets what, in terms of finances and possessions
how you will both continue to look after children in the best possible way
why your marriage is over and the legal reasons that it’s over
this may help smooth the process and save you money.
If both of you can agree on matters regarding finances and children, getting a divorce is rather straightforward. If you make yourself aware of the various elements of the process and undertake all the admin, it is possible to get a divorce cheaply using a do-it-yourself method or online. You can divorce from £250+VAT with Rocket Lawyer. Web-based services usually include a degree of guidance from a divorce lawyer but are much cheaper than actually going to visit a solicitor.
You can apply to end (‘dissolve’) your civil partnership if you’ve been in the partnership for at least a year.
For more information read Separating from your spouse or civil partner.
If you have been married for less than a year, you can sign a Separation agreement with your spouse or civil partner, this will ensure that most of the practical matters are dealt with in advance of the divorce or dissolution.
Apart from applying for a divorce you may also have to:
change your address when you move out of the home
sever joint tenancy if you own a property together
change your name with a Statutory declaration of name change if there have been any other changes to your name apart from adopting your spouse's surname
review your Will to make sure that it reflects any new wishes and new circumstances.