You can contact us if you are seeking legal help and support from divorce & family law solicitors in London, Manchester or Birmingham for getting divorced in England & Wales and our team of divorce & family law solicitors will provide you with fast, friendly, reliable, honest and professional legal services for your divorce petition.


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When Can You Get Divorced In England & Wales?

You can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:

  • you’ve been married for over a year
  • your relationship has permanently broken down
  • your marriage is legally recognised in England & Wales (including same-sex marriage)
  • Either you or your husband/wife is habitually resident in England & Wales

In some circumstances a divorce may not be suitable or applicable. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be more appropriate to annual your marriage or legally separate.
An annulment or legal separation can be applied for within the first year of marriage.

What Other Matters May Also Arise In Divorce Proceedings?

Depending on the personal circumstances of the petitioner and the Respondent, the following other matters may also arise in the divorce proceedings:

What Is A 'Clean Break' Divorce?

A clean break divorce is where no ongoing financial commitments remain between you and your spouse. The phrase ‘a clean break’ is particularly used as the opposite of an order where there is ongoing spousal maintenance payable, usually monthly, from one spouse to the other.

A clean break is only possible in relation to the financial claims between spouses. It is not possible to have a clean break in relation to financial obligations towards your children.

In case you and your ex-partner have no assets to divide, you should also apply for a financial settlement order. It’s important to do so, even if you don’t have any assets to divide at the time of the divorce. There’s no guarantee you won’t come into some money in the future and if you haven’t obtained a financial settlement, your ex is still within their legal rights to make a financial claim.

Once a 'clean break' agreement of this kind has been ratified by court order, neither of you will be able to go back to court in the future to ask for maintenance or further transfer of assets. This gives both partners a much greater degree of certainty and allows them to completely disentangle their individual financial affairs.

Can I Get Divorced In England & Wales If I Got Married Abroad?

Yes, you can start divorce proceedings in England provided that you have a valid marriage certificate (and certified translation, if the marriage certificate is not written in English). The key issue is determining whether the marriage is valid and legal in the country within which the ceremony took place, with the local custom being observed. If the marriage has been carried out in accordance with the local laws and customs of the country in which it took place, it is usually a valid legal marriage.

Can I Get Divorced In England & Wales If My Spouse Is Resident Abroad?

Yes, in circumstances where your spouse is abroad but you are still habitually resident in England & Wales, you can start divorce proceedings in England & Wales.

Pursuant to Article 3 Brussels II, the English Court has jurisdiction to deal with a divorce on the basis that one of the following applies:

  • Both you and your spouse are habitually resident in England and Wales;
  • Both you and your spouse were last habitually resident in England and Wales, and one of you still resides here;
  • Your spouse is habitually resident in England and Wales;
  • You are habitually resident in England and Wales and have resided here for a year;
  • You are habitually resident in England and Wales and have resided here for 6 months and you are also domiciled in England and Wales;
  • Both you and your spouse are domiciled in England and Wales.

To establish habitual residence in England & Wales, you need to show that you have a right to reside here and have intention to make it your home for the time being. Domicile is a much more permanent concept than residence. You will have a domicile of origin, which is usually the domicile of your father at the time of your birth, or the domicile of your mother if your parents were unmarried. To gain a new domicile, you have to show that you intend to live permanently in the new country and you do not intend to return to live in your domicile of origin. This is a complex issue and therefore an expert, detailed advice should be taken before proceeding on divorce relying solely on domicile basis.

What Are Various Grounds For Getting Divorced In England & Wales?

When you apply for a divorce you’ll need to prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably and cannot be saved. This means that either one or both of you feel that you cannot stay married to each other. Either of you may apply to the court in England and Wales for the marriage to be dissolved as long as you have been married for one year at least and that one of you has been a resident here for the year before your application is made. The application to the court is called a Petition and the spouse who files (sends) the Petition is called the Petitioner. The other spouse is then called the Respondent. You’ll need to give one or more of the following 5 reasons (also known as ‘facts’).

There are 5 grounds for divorce which are as follows:

  • Adultery - Your husband or wife had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex (committed adultery). and you find it intolerable to live with him or her. In most cases you prove adultery by your husband or wife admitting it. If not, you will need to speak to your family law solicitor. If you carry on living with your husband or wife for more than six months after you find out about the adultery, you will generally not be able to use this as ground for divorce unless the adultery is continuing.
  • Unreasonable Behaviour - Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This covers all sorts of bad behaviour. You need to think about the main things that have made your husband or wife difficult to live with. These are summed up in the petition (the application for divorce) in a few short paragraphs. Our team of family law solicitors will aim to send a draft copy to your spouse or his/her appointed family law solicitors for an agreement. As with adultery, you cannot rely on single event that took place more than six months before you file your petition, if you have lived together since then. The examples of unreasonable behaviour could include:
    • physical violence;
    • verbal abuse, such as insults or threats
    • drunkenness or drug-taking
    • refusing to pay towards shared living expenses
  • Desertion Of The Petitioner By The Respondent - Your husband or wife has deserted you for a period of more than two years. Desertion means leaving your husband or wife without his or her agreement and without good reason. The petitioner can apply for divorce on the grounds that the Respondent deserted the petitioner more than 2 years ago and the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
  • 2 Years Separation And Respondent Consenting To Divorce - You have lived separately for more than two years and your husband or wife (the respondent to the divorce petition) consents to the divorce. This is often called a 'no-fault' divorce. You can have had periods of living together as long as they do not add up to more than six months and you have been apart for least two years altogether. Your husband or wife must agree in writing. It may be possible for you to show that you’ve been separated while living in the same home as your wife or husband as long as you’re not living together as a couple (for example you sleep and eat apart).
  • 5 Years Separation - You have lived separately for more than 5 years. Your husband or wife who is repondent to the divorce petition does not need to agree to this. The Respondent cannot defend the divorce petition on this ground but he/she can ask the court not to grant the final decree because of a major financial or other type of hardship.

What Is The Step By Step Procedure For Getting Divorced In England & Wales?

Following is the step by step procedure for getting divorced in England & Wales:

  1. The petitioner would file the divorce petition in the court by completing application form D8 and send the form with the relevant enclosures to the court;
  2. Within a few days of getting the divorce petition, the court would write to the petitioner or his/her divorce solicitors confirming the receipt of the divorce petition;
  3. The court will then send a copy of your divorce petition to your spouse (respondent). If your spouse has instructed divorce solicitors to act for him/her, a copy of the divorce petition would be sent to them. If you applied for divorce on adultery grounds and named the other party who committed adultery with your spouse, a copy of the divorce petition would also be sent to such other named party;
  4. Within 8 days of receiving the divorce petition, the respondent is required to send a reply by post to your divorce petition stating whether or not he/she intends to contest the divorce. You must respond within 7 days in case of online response where the divorce was filed by your spouse online;
  5. If your spouse (respondent) does not contest the divorce, you can then apply for decree nisi. If your spouse does contest the divorce, you’re still able to apply for decree nisi, but you’ll need to attend a court hearing where your case will be discussed. A family court judge will then decide whether to grant you a decree nisi. If your divorce petition is approved by the court, you and your spouse (respondent) will be sent certificates stating the time and date when divorce will be granted. If your divorce petition is rejected, you may be sent a form called a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’ giving reasons why you are not permitted to divorce. This form will also tell you what steps to take next. For example, you might be asked to provide additional information or you might be required to attend a hearing.;
  6. After 6 weeks and 1 day of decree nisi being granted by the court, you can then apply for a decree absolute. Before applying for a decree absolute, it is advisable to resolve any financial issues, if there are assets and or money of which settlement is required. Once you have decree absolute, you are officially divorced and no longer married .

When Can I Apply For Divorce Financial Settlement Order?

You can normally apply for a financial settlement order any time during the divorce proceedings.  However, you can apply for financial settlement even after the divorce has been finalised as long as you have not re-married following the divorce. It’s advisable to apply for financial settlement before your partner or you have remarried.

On a divorce, Dissolution Of Civil Partnership, nullity and judicial separation, the family court has  power to make an order for financial settlement. The court does not have power to make a capital order or a final financial order until a decree nisi has been pronounced, but can make an order for interim maintenance with effect from the date of the divorce petition. Read More About UK Divorce Financial Settlement.

How long does the divorce process take?

This varies from court to court and from case to case, depending on the complexity of the case. An uncontested divorce with no financial settlement issues can take up to 6 months whereas a contested and complicated divorce can take much longer than 6 months and time would vary depending on the complexity of the matter.

How Sunrise Solicitors Can Help You With Your Divorce Petition?

Divorce and separation is a very difficult decision to make and should never be taken lightly. Our team of family law solicitors is aware of the sensitivity in this matter and every individual is in a different situation. To make your life easier, you can seek expert legal help from the family law solicitors at Sunrise Solicitors. Our team of family law solicitors are highly trained and experienced in all aspects of divorce law and will guide and support you each step of the way. We will cut through the legal jargon and ensure you understand exactly what’s happening at all times. Our team of expert family law solicitors will provide the required legal help and guidance with step by step procedure for getting divorced in England & Wales.

Our team of family law solicitors will advise and assist to cater for your individuals needs. We will discuss the possible grounds on which you can apply for divorce after gathering all the factual information from you. We will explain to you the court procedures in very simple and clear terms and fully guide you through the procedures and carry out all the follow up work until the Decree Absolute is issued by the family court.

What Are The Fees/Legal Costs For Getting Divorced In England & Wales?

The costs involved in getting divorced in England & Wales are as follows:

Our Fees

  • Our team of family law solicitors will charge a fixed fee from £700 + VAT in relation to your divorce  where the application for divorce is not contested by the Respondent (uncontested divorce);
  • Our team of family law solicitors will charge on hourly rate basis with hourly rate starting from £130 + VAT per hour in relation to your divorce petition where the divorce matter is either complicated or is being contested by the respondent (contested divorce). The agreed hourly rate will be dependent on the complexity of the matter.

Court Fees

  • The court fee for filing divorce in the family court is £550 which has to be paid at the time of filing for divorce. Petitioners with very low income may qualify for court fee exemption.

Sunrise Solicitors is the trading name of Sunrise Solicitors Ltd (company registration no. 6405492). Sunrise Solicitors Offices are regulated by SRA under SRA ID 490903 (London Office) and SRA ID 645256 (Manchester Office). Sunrise Solicitors are also members of Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA).

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