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How Do I Get a Divorce?

The specialist divorce Solicitors at Wilford Smith can offer expert legal advice on a comprehensive range of legal issues arising from divorce including financial settlements and property disputes. Our Lawyers also have experience advising high net worth clients undertaking divorce proceedings, including those with an international component.

Getting a divorce – the basic facts

To get a divorce, you and your spouse will be required to reach agreement on four main things. These are:

  • That your marriage is over
  • The legal reason that the marriage is over
  • How your property and assets will be shared
  • If you have children, how they will be cared for following

While this is a relatively simple and straightforward list of requirements, reaching consensus on these issues can, in many cases, be challenging. There is also a requirement that you and your spouse have been married for over a year. If this is not the case, you can still instruct a solicitor to help you prepare a separation agreement that will cover issues relating to property and other assets that you and your spouse own in preparation for divorce proceedings at a later date.

For civil partners, the procedures involved in legally separating are mostly the same. The term used is 'dissolution' rather than divorce.

Grounds for divorce

For a divorce to be granted, you will need to show that your marriage has 'irretrievably broken down'. Five grounds can be used to demonstrate this:

  • Adultery (this is not a ground for dissolution of a civil partnership)
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation when both parties consent to the divorce
  • Five years of separation
  • Desertion

Divorce procedure

The first step is to complete a divorce petition. This should be submitted to your local county court along with your original marriage certificate and the court fee. A copy of the petition will be sent to your spouse. They will have fourteen days to respond and assuming they agree to the divorce, you can then complete a statement in support of this along with an application for a decree nisi.

Before a divorce is granted, you will need to show that you have reached a financial settlement as well as an agreement on how any children will be cared for after the divorce. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court may make these decisions for you if they feel it is appropriate to do so.

Once arrangements have been put in place, an application can be made to the court for a Decree Absolute which finalises divorce proceedings. The earliest that an application for Decree Absolute can be made is six weeks and one day after the decree nisi has been issued.

If you are unable to settle financial matters through mediation or negotiation, a Financial Remedy Application can be made. A Financial Remedy Application is a process to divide money and property between parties to a divorce. You can read about this process in detail on our divorce page.

Contact our Divorce Solicitors

We understand that initiating divorce proceedings can lead to confusion and uncertainty – you might be unsure about your rights and the legal effects of divorce and unclear about the procedures involved. Our divorce lawyers can offer clear, straightforward advice delivered compassionately and in plain English.

Whatever your circumstances, speak to a member of our team today by calling 01709 828 044 or complete our online contact form to find out how we can help.


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