We understand that getting a divorce can be an unsettling and emotionally challenging time for many. Rest assured that our legal experts have 30 years of experience in handling civil partnership and divorce proceedings. We treat all of our clients with the highest levels of professionalism and discretion.
What is the purpose of a divorce, or civil partnership?
A divorce is the legal ending or dissolution of a marriage between two spouses. Even though the two partners may already have separated, a divorce terminates their marital relationship legally. If you live in England or Wales, you may also legally end your civil partnership by applying to the courts for a dissolution order. This will legally and permanently end your civil partnership. You will need to prove to the courts that your civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
Who can get a divorce or civil partnership dissolution?
In England and Wales, you can get a divorce if one of the following applies:
- You have been married to your wife or husband for one year or longer.
- Your marriage is legal in the UK, meaning both heterosexual and same-sex married partners can get a divorce.
- You and/or your wife or husband are a permanent resident(s) of the UK.
- Your relationship with your wife or husband has permanently broken down.
If you have been in a civil partnership for more than one year and are a British citizen, you may enter a civil partnership dissolution. Your immigration status may be affected if you are not a British citizen (Citizenadvice.org.uk).
How can Garratts’ divorce solicitors help?
At Garratts, we will guide you through all elements involved in a divorce, from helping you decide on the main grounds for your divorce to representing you at court. We understand that this can be a very difficult time for you and your family and will discuss all matters with the greatest degree of confidentiality and professionalism.
How can I get a divorce?
To get a divorce in England and Wales, you will need to provide the court with sufficient grounds that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
What are the grounds for a divorce?
As part of applying for a divorce, you must evidence one of the following grounds;
- Adultery (in opposite-sex marriages)
Your spouse engaged in sexual intercourse with another person.
- Unreasonable behaviour
Your spouse behaved so unreasonably towards you that you cannot be expected to live with. This type of behaviour is very wide-ranging, and the threshold for unreasonable behaviour is a lot lower nowadays and is what you find unreasonable.
- Separation of two years or longer
Provided you and your spouse agree and have been separated for a minimum of 2 years, you may divorce based on this reason.
- Separation of five years or longer
You may divorce your spouse if you have been separated for the last five years or longer and do not require your spouse’s consent.
If your spouse left or ‘deserted’ you for a continuous period of two years or more, you may apply for a divorce without requiring their consent.
I’ve been in a civil partnership for less than a year. Can I still apply for a dissolution order?
You may get a legal separation if you have been in a civil partnership for less than one year. You and your ex-partner may live apart if you’re legally separated whilst legally still being in a civil partnership.
How can I dissolve a civil partnership?
To dissolve a civil partnership in England and Wales, the court will require you to prove that your relationship with your civil partner has irretrievably and permanently broken down.
As part of your application, you will need to state a reason or ground for ending your civil partnership.
Your ex-partner behaved in an unreasonable way for you to live with. This may involve them;
- Being physically or mentally cruel
- Being physically or mentally abusive
- Being irresponsible with your finances
- Having sexual relations with someone else.
Your civil partner left you at least two years ago. If you lived together for six months or less during this time, you could still cite desertion as a ground.
- Being separated for two years or longer
You and your civil partner have been separated and have not lived together as a couple for at least two years. Both parties have to agree to the civil partnership dissolution in writing mutually.
- Being separated for five years or longer
You and your ex-partner have been separated and have not lived together as a couple for at least five years. You may end your civil partnership without your partner’s consent.
For a civil partnership dissolution, how does a conditional order differ from a final order?
A conditional order marks the first stage of your civil partnership dissolution by which the court confirms your application and agrees that there is no reason why you should not be able to end your civil partnership. If that is not the case, you can apply for a hearing during which the judge may still grant you a conditional order.
Before you can apply for a conditional order, seven days will have to have passed since your civil partner received their copy of the dissolution application form.
The legal document marking the second stage of the dissolution is also known as a final order for which you may apply six weeks after receiving your conditional order. A final order application has to be made within 12 months of the conditional order being issued.
How to apply for a divorce
If you wish to apply for a divorce, you will need to have the following documents:
- Your spouses’ full name and address.
- Your original marriage certificate or certified copies. Please note that you will require a certified translation if your marriage certificate is not written in English.
- If you have changed your name since you got married, you will need to prove this.
How much does it cost to apply for a divorce?
You will need to pay a non-refundable application fee to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service when you apply by post or online. The application fee is currently set at £593 for divorces in England and Wales. If you want to instruct us to assist you with your divorce, our fees will be in addition to the above.
How long does a divorce take?
The complexities involved in your divorce and whether or not your spouse agrees will determine the duration of the entire process. The party receiving the divorce will generally be sent an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form for your divorce application between 10 and 28 days after submitting it.
It is unusual for divorces to take over a year to complete, as most divorces are straightforward. It is unusual for them to be defended, in which case they should not last longer than 6 months from beginning to final decree (Decree Absolute). However, we may advise you to delay finalizing the divorce until the financial issues are complete. Cases may exceed this timeframe where the other party does not respond to the divorce, and personal service is required. (This extra work will incur additional fees.)
Do finances and child arrangements form part of a divorce?
Financial settlements will come into play when proceeding with a divorce. The effect of a divorce has a significant impact on a family’s financial situation both now and in the future. A divorce allows spouses to pursue financial orders or create a clean break between them. Before going ahead with a divorce, you should seek advice concerning finances.
Children arrangements do not form part of the divorce, and you may also seek legal advice from your solicitor regarding arrangements for any children you have with your spouse. To speak to our team of solicitors, call us on 0161 665 350.