may not know that you need to be married for at least one year and be
habitually resident in England and Wales to get divorced. If you are not
habitually resident in England and Wales then both you and your spouse will
need to be domiciled here.
is only one ground for divorce known as the irretrievable breakdown of the
marriage, which has to be proved by one of five grounds (see below).
start the divorce process you will need to file a petition at court citing one
of the five grounds. There is a court fee of £410 to pay (January 2015).
court will issue your petition to your spouse who must then complete the
acknowledgement of service within a specified timeframe. If your spouse does not defend your petition
you can apply for a decree nisi. A decree nisi is a document that says the
court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce.
judge will consider your divorce petition. If the judge agrees with your petition
a certificate of entitlement to a decree and a decree nisi will be sent to you.
This is the first of two decrees. It is at this stage that the court can
approve any financial agreement reached between the parties.
weeks and one day after the decree nisi has been issued, you can apply for
decree absolute. This is the final decree, and legally ends your marriage.
above is based on a typical undefended divorce. There can be complications if,
for example, your spouse doesn’t return the acknowledgement of service, or
decides that they wish to petition against you.
do I prove my marriage has irretrievably broken down?
obtain a divorce you must show the court that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. To do this you must prove one
of the following five specific circumstances exist:
Adultery is an act of sexual intercourse with someone
else of the opposite sex. You can commence divorce proceedings immediately on
You cannot rely on an act of adultery as a ground
for divorce if you have lived with your spouse for six months after you have
found out about it.
is unreasonable behaviour?
behaviour is where you consider your spouse or partner has behaved in such a
way that you cannot reasonably be expected to continue to live with him or her.
You can commence divorce proceedings immediately on this basis.
You are treated as being
separated when you live apart from your spouse. Even if spouses live in the
same household, they can be living apart if they are leading completely
separate lives. You can use separation as a ground for divorce if you have
lived apart from your spouse for:
test for what is or is not unreasonable is subjective meaning the court will
consider what is unreasonable to you personally. The behaviour need not consist
of extreme behaviour. Instead a combination of less obvious unreasonable
behaviour can be sufficient.
more than two years with your spouse’s consent; or
if you have lived apart for more than five years you generally do not
need your spouse’s agreement.
means that your spouse or civil partner has left you without your agreement and
without good reason.
rely on this fact you need to establish the following:
longer live with your spouse or partner and the desertion has been for a continuous
period of 2 years immediately preceding the date the petition is filed at
not consent to the separation.
spouse or partner intends to permanently stop living with you.
no reasonable cause for your spouse or partner to stop living you.
is rarely used as it is not easy to prove and often another fact can be used in
Kate Lovegrove is an experienced family mediator and solicitor and is based in our Tunbridge Wells and Kings Hill offices. You can telephone Kate direct on 01892 506 205 or 01732 224 025 or email Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Emma Clements is a trainee solicitor in the family team at Cripps. You can view her profile at http://www.cripps.co.uk/profile/emma-clements/