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Getting a decree absolute can be relatively simple however you will need to undertake a separate process to make arrangements for your finances, property and children. These processes take place simultaneously. You can read more here about divorce and finances.

Whilst, we highly recommend that you seek legal advice to protect yourself and your family, here’s our five step by step guide about how to get divorced.

1 Decide the reason for divorce

In English law, you must cite one of five reasons for divorce in support of your claim in your divorce petition that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation – two years, separation – five years and desertion (very rarely used).

2 Complete a divorce petition

If it’s you who is starting divorce proceedings you are known as the ‘petitioner.’ Your spouse is the ‘respondent’. You need to download and fill in a divorce petition which is basically an application for divorce.  You can download this here.

3 Submit the petition

Once the form is completed you need to supply your original marriage certificate or get an official copy – you can order one here – your own copies will not be accepted. It is at this stage payment of the court fee is required (currently £550).

You can submit your petition in two ways:  Online www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce By post: Send 3 copies of the form to your nearest divorce centre. Find yours here

The Court will send you a copy back, one to your spouse and keep a copy on file.  Send 4 copies if you have named someone who has committed adultery with your spouse.

But what if there's money to be sorted out?

There is a question about making a financial claim on the petition and you just tick a box, however, it is rarely that simple. We would strongly recommend getting legal advice so you are protected financially. Getting a decree absolute does not sort out your finances and children. Please do get extra information here.

What happens next:

Your application will be checked by the court and if it’s completed correctly you will be sent a notice that your application has been issued, a copy of your application and a case number. A copy of the application will be served on your spouse who will have eight days to respond to say if they intend to defend the divorce.

If your ex-partner says that they do not wish to defend the divorce petition then you can apply for a decree nisi. If they wish to defend the divorce, it is best to get legal advice.

4. Apply for a decree nisi

To get a decree nisi, read the guidance and then fill in the application for a decree nisi. Download a decree nisi application Once the decree nisi has been pronounced you can apply after six weeks and one day to have the decree absolute granted.

5. Apply for a decree absolute

You must complete a notice of application to the court who will check the time limits and there are no other reasons not to grant the divorce. Complete a decree absolute The court will send the decree absolute to both parties and you are divorced. Keep it safe, you will need to show if you wish to remarry.

How long will a divorce take?

All in all, the process should take around five months to complete – provided both parties do everything required at the earliest opportunity. Delays by either side and disagreements are common factors that slow progress, making the divorce process take longer.

We also have a helpful diagram to explain the divorce process further. You can also download our guide to getting divorced here (PDF)

The information above is provided for general informational purposes only. No information contained in this article should be construed as legal advice nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal advice on any subject matter. We strongly recommend you speak to a lawyer before you finalise your divorce as it can have a far-reaching impact on your finance and future.
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