Around four in ten marriages end in divorce in the UK, it is very common and something lots of people go through. But it can still be a difficult and upsetting process. Here we take a look at what you need to do to get a divorce
Before you can divorce
There are several criteria you need to meet before you can end a marriage in England and Wales:
- You must have been married for over a year.
- Your relationship must have permanently broken down.
- Your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK.
- The UK must be your permanent home or the permanent home of your spouse.
If there are legal reasons your marriage is not valid you can annul it within a year.
How to file for a divorce
It costs £550 pounds to file for divorce. If you can’t afford this, you may be able to get help paying it.
The form includes your and your spouse’s details, including those of your solicitors if you have them. It also asks you to identify the grounds for your divorce. This can be one of five reasons:
- Adultery – one of you has cheated.
- Unreasonable behaviour – this covers lots of issues including domestic abuse.
- Desertion – your spouse has left you and you’ve lived apart for more than two years.
- You’ve lived apart for two years and you both agree to the divorce.
- You’ve lived apart for five years. You do not need the agreement of your spouse in this case.
Unless the last point applies it’s a good idea to get the agreement of your spouse on the reason for the divorce before sending the form. If they disagree they can dispute your reasons in court, this is known as a defended divorce and will lead to extra costs and delays.
If they do dispute your reason, you can try to come to a resolution using a mediation service. But you may have to seek legal advice.
The next stages of divorce
Once the court has received the application, known as a petition, it will send copies to your spouse. They will need to respond to acknowledge they’ve received the papers and whether they agree or disagree with them.
The petitioner, the person who filled out the initial application, can then apply for a decree nisi. This is a provisional decree of divorce. A judge will consider whether it meets all the legal requirements, before granting one.
Six weeks and one day after a decree nisi is granted you can apply for a decree absolute to finalise your divorce. As long as you have applied within 12 months of getting your decree nisi and there are no other legal obstacles, it will be granted and you will no longer be married.
A straightforward divorce which doesn’t involve any legal disputes takes around four to six months.
Separating your belongings
Alongside divorce proceedings you will need to divide your assets with your spouse. This is often where disagreements emerge.
As always, if this can be done amicably it will save time and money. Ideally you’ll be able to go through your finances together and come to an agreement. If not the next step is to use a mediation service. If agreement still can’t be reached you may have to ask a court to decide.
Belongings that may need to be divided or shared include anything from property, pensions, savings and cars to record collections and pets.
Often a home is the largest shared asset. You may agree to continue sharing the costs of it, even if one of you moves out, especially if there are children living there. But if one of you wants to buy the other out of their share or take on the remaining mortgage, you will need to prove to a mortgage company that you can afford the repayments on your own.
Sometimes the quickest and easiest option is to sell your home, particularly if it will release a lot of value. We can help you do this, in just seven days if necessary, so that you can quickly access funds and begin a new chapter in your life.
Once you’ve come to an agreement it’s worth making it legally binding so that all sides are clear about who’s getting what. You must apply for this before the decree absolute is granted.
Working with us
We are experienced in buying homes in emotional situations such as divorce. We aim to make the process as hassle free as possible so we don’t add to the strain you are under.
We’ll also keep the costs down. We instruct and pay for solicitors and because we don’t use estate agents you do not have to pay their fees.
If you’d like to chat about how we can help you, get in touch with the team.