To obtain a divorce in the UK, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has
irretrievably broken down. Irretrievable breakdown can be established by proving
one of the five grounds for divorce. These are :
Your husband or wife has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to
live with them
Your husband or wife has behaved in such a manner that you cannot be
reasonably expected to live with them
You have lived apart for two years and you both agree to there being a
Your husband or wife has deserted you for a period of two years or more
You have lived apart for five years or more
For most people the divorce procedure is straightforward . Assuming the divorce is not defended (most are not) usually no
attendance is required at court and Decree Absolute can be obtained in as little as four to six months (although if, for example, you do not know where your spouse lives or they refuse to co-operate or if there are financial matters to be resolved then it is likely to take longer) .
The procedure is as follows:
Divorce Petition - this document is lodged with the court
to start the court process. The original marriage certificate also needs to be
filed with the court. Where there are children, a document called a statement of
arrangements for children must also be filled in and filed with the court.
Acknowledgement of Service - the Respondent will be served
with the petition and the other documents by the court. The Respondent should then complete
a short form called the acknowledgement of service in which they confirm that
they have received the petition and indicate whether they intend to defend the divorce .
Decree Nisi - Assuming the Respondent has filled in the
acknowledgment of service indicating that they do not intend to defend the divorce and sent it back to the court , the Petitioner can then
apply for decree nisi. It will be necessary for the Petitioner to
swear a short affidavit confirming the contents of the petition under oath. That
affidavit accompanies the application to the court for decree
Decree nisi is pronounced in open court, although it is not
necessary for anybody to attend that hearing.
It is important to be aware that you are still married after Decree Nisi has been pronounced and cannot yet remarry !
Decree Absolute - the decree absolute is the final decree
of divorce and can be applied for by the Petitioner a minimum of six weeks and
one day after the pronouncement of decree nisi. If a financial settlement on
divorce has not been agreed, the application for decree absolute may be delayed
until that financial settlement has been agreed.
Only once Decree Absolute has been pronounced will you be properly divorced and can remarry.