Ask us a question

Free, no obligation legal answers from qualified solicitors - ask away!

Divorce process

How complicated is it to get a divorce and what is the procedure that you need to go through?

The divorce petition

The divorce petition is routinely written by one spouse and served on the other. It contains important information regarding the marriage such as the names of the couple and also any children. It must be served upon the other spouse and is called the “service of process”. As well as the basic details on names and addresses, it includes a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and will state the fact which will be relied upon, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

It also includes a “prayer” which has a request for the divorce to be granted and may include a claim about the costs of the divorce. The court fee on issuing a petition is £410 (valid as of April 2014).

To petition for divorce the petitioner has to prove the ground for divorce which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. To do this they will refer to one of the five facts.

  1. The respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to continue living together.
  2. The respondent has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect the petitioner to continue living with them.
  3. The other spouse has deserted the petitioner for a period of at least two years
  4. The couple have been living apart for at least two years and the respondent consents to the divorce.
  5. The couple have been living apart for a period of at least five years, whether or not the respondent consents to the divorce.

Finalising a divorce

The financial considerations regarding the couple are sometimes arranged before the divorce is finalised but not all the time. Often final resolution cannot be made, however the court will hear and try and resolve any urgent problems in the meantime and make suitable arrangements. There are also some occasions when it is considered best that the final decree absolute of the divorce is postponed while the financial affairs of the parties are resolved.

There are a number of reasons why it may be necessary to take this step. National insurance contributions can be affected by the final decree as can life insurance entitlement as well as rights of occupancy of the family home, depending on whether the couple are joint tenants or tenants in common. There are also sometimes tax benefits in delaying the decree absolute until after the settlement and implementation of financial affairs.

Family mediation

From 22 April 2014 anyone seeking to issue court proceedings for private children or financial remedy must first attend a mediation information and assessment meeting with an accredited family mediator.