How long does the divorce process take in the UK?
Obviously this can depend on the complexities of the case but on average it will take between 4 to 6 months.
Will my divorce be straightforward if my spouse and I have been separated for 2 years?
If you are divorcing on the basis of 2 years separation then provided you both consent to a divorce the process is fairly uncomplicated.
When are you actually ‘divorced’?
This will be once the Decree Absolute, or in dissolution proceedings the Final Order has been pronounced.
How do I apply for a divorce in the UK?
You can apply for a divorce by submitting a Divorce Petition to the Family Court in your area. The Petition will need to include full details of your marriage and the reason for your divorce. Once the Petition is submitted to the Court, the Petition will be sent to your spouse to respond. After this stage there are 2 further applications for the Court to process; these are for Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute. The Decree Absolute marks the end of your marriage and this document will replace your marriage certificate.
What happens if I have made a mistake on the divorce paperwork?
The Court will notify you of the mistake and depending on the nature of the mistake you may need to submit amended documents to the Court.
Do you need the consent of the other spouse to obtain a divorce?
If you wish to divorce on the basis that you and your spouse have been separated for in excess of 2 years then your spouse will need to consent to the process. However, if you have concerns that your spouse will not agree then it may be advisable to pursue the divorce based on alternative grounds such as your spouse’s behaviour, as a petition based on behaviour will not require their consent.
How much are the court fees for obtaining a divorce?
There is an initial Court fee payable of £550 when the paperwork is submitted to the Court. You may however be entitled to a discounted fee or an exemption if you are in respect of a low income or state benefits.
Can we get a divorce if we still live together?
In certain circumstances this will be possible. If you are living together but effectively leading separate lives then this should be possible. You would need to show the Court that your daily routines are separate, for example that you do not take meals together and that your incomes are not pooled.
Will I have to pay the Court fees?
You will be required to pay a Court fee at the start of the divorce. However it may be possible to apply for a Court fee exemption or discount if you are on a low income or in rescript of state benefits.
What is an annulment and how do I get one?
An annulment differs from divorce in the sense that In order to obtain an annulment you would need to submit an application to your local Family Court providing details of your marriage and the reason for the annulment, for example, the marriage may have been forced or your spouse was already married.
What if my spouse won’t respond to the divorce?
If you are concerned that your spouse will not consent or respond to the divorce then you will need to ensure that the correct grounds are stated in your petition. For example, if you wanted to use the grounds of 2 years separation in your divorce then spouse will need to consent for the divorce to progress, otherwise you will need to consider stating other reasons for the breakdown of the marriage.
Do you have to wait a year to get a divorce?
Yes, this is a requirement. However, you may be able to apply for an annulment instead if you meet specific criteria, such as non-consummation of the marriage.
What if I cannot find my spouse? Will I still be able to get divorced?
Provided some efforts have been made to try to locate your spouse then it may still be possible to proceed with the divorce. In practice, an application will need to be submitted to the Court to dispense with service. If granted, this will mean that you should be able to obtain your divorce without locating your spouse.
Divorce Finances - FAQs
What am I entitled to from my ex-spouse after we get divorced?
Initially, it is necessary to establish the relevant financial issues from the marriage. This would involve both spouses fully disclosing their financial situations. Then, either the parties may reach an agreement as to the distribution of the marital finances or an application may be made to the Court to request a formal determination.
Either way, the parties should be aware that the Court will take a range of factors into account when making a determination. The starting point would be for the Court to consider an equal split of the assets however, often the party’s needs, most commonly housing needs, will override this. For example, the housing needs of any child from the marriage will take precedence over an equal division of the assets.
Another common factor to be taken into account is the contribution of each spouse to the marriage. This is not limited to financial contribution and if for example, one spouse has been the ‘homemaker’ through the marriage and perhaps taken main responsibility in caring for the children then this contribution would usually be given as much weight as the ‘breadwinner’ of the marriage.
I’m worried that my ex-spouse may try to hide his/her assets, what can I do?
In this situation it is almost always advisable to make a formal application to the Court to determine the martial finances. Both parties will be duty bound to disclose their finances fully to the Court and other spouse. Failure to do so could result in the Court imposing penalties against the non-disclosing party. For example, this could mean that the non disclosing spouse may have to pay some or all of the other spouse’s costs.
I’m worried that my ex-spouse will be entitled to part of my pension which I’m reluctant to share, how can I avoid this?
As part of the disclosure process, both spouses will be required to disclose any pension funds they may have. The starting point will again be an equal split of the assets, including pensions. Thereafter, to equalise the pension funds it may be appropriate to have a pension sharing arrangement.
Alternatively, if pension sharing is not appealing and there are other assets available then the parties may agree to ‘offset’ their potential pension interest against other available assets from the marriage, such as property or savings.
My ex-spouse and I have reached an amicable agreement between ourselves in respect of our assets, is there anything else I need to do?
It would be advisable to formalise this agreement by making an application by consent to the Court. If the Court approved the agreement then it would be set out in formal Court Order which would be enforceable as such in the event that one party fails to comply.
I’m not keen on getting divorced at the moment but would like to record an agreement which my ex-spouse and I have reached in respect of our finances, is there anything I can do to formalise this?
The agreement could be drawn up into a document known as a ‘separation agreement’. This document, although not strictly binging on the Courts, could potentially minimise the risk of a dispute in the future.
My ex-spouse has stopped paying towards the mortgage and I cannot afford to pay this on my own. What can I do?
Once the divorce process has started then it would be possible to make an application for interim maintenance to cover more urgent matters such as meeting mortgage payments until overall financial settlement has been reached.