1. When can a divorce petition be issued?
You can issue a divorce petition once you have been married for at least 12 months.
2. Will my marriage certificate be required?
Yes. When submitting your divorce paperwork to the court, you will need to provide your original marriage certificate or a certified copy.
This can often hold up proceedings so if you have lost yours, you should order a certified replacement from the General Register Office for a fee of £9.25. You can also order it by post or direct from the local register office where your marriage was registered.
3. On what grounds can a divorce petition be issued?
There is only one ground for divorce, and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. Within that, there are five facts you can give to show that your marriage has broken down to the point where you can no longer stay together. These facts are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years of separation (and your ex-spouse agrees the divorce)
- Five years of separation (even if your ex-spouse disagrees with the divorce)
If you want to give adultery as the reason, you will need your ex-spouse to agree to this.
4. Does the basis of the divorce have to be agreed?
It is not necessary for your ex-spouse to agree with the grounds for your divorce if you opt for unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or five years’ separation.
If you want to cite adultery as a reason, or if you apply for a divorce on the basis of two years’ separation, you will need your ex-spouse to agree.
5. What information does the divorce petition contain?
A divorce petition will contain basic information about you and your ex-spouse such as your names and addresses. It will also include details about any children you have together, the date you got married, and the reason your marriage has broken down (see Q3). A divorce petition will also outline any financial claims that could be made.
6. What details are given about children?
Details about your children will need to be provided to the Court. These will include your children’s names, their dates of birth, who they currently live with, and where they go to school. This information is useful for the judge who is considering your case, even though child arrangements no longer form part of the divorce.
7. Will I need to attend court?
In a straightforward divorce case, you will not need to attend court. However, if you cannot agree on the financial aspects of your divorce, or on who will look after the children and access arrangements, then you may need to attend court to resolve these issues.
8. Are the divorce proceedings held in public?
No. Divorce proceedings are held in the Family Court, which means that they usually happen behind closed doors.
9. When are financial issues dealt with?
The financial aspects of your divorce are usually carried out after the decree nisi has been granted and before the issuing of the decree absolute.
If there are any financial aspects that you can’t agree on, it may be necessary to go to court before the divorce is finalised.
10. When will I be able to remarry?
You can remarry once the decree absolute has been issued. If there are no financial settlements to be made, the application for the decree absolute can be made six weeks after the decree nisi.
If you have not yet settled the financial agreements and do not want to wait, you can choose to apply for the decree absolute. You can do this six weeks after the decree nisi is issued. If you wait for a year or longer, the court will ask you to explain why you’ve waited.
11. How long will it take?
You should allow for your divorce to take about a year but, if you are both amicable and can provide the necessary paperwork and agree on finances, it may take less time. You should be aware, however, that the process can be slowed down by things like the backlog and speed of the court, and the regional processing centres.
If you’re looking for legal support, you can try the helpline or online services over at Co-operative Legal Services.