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How to apply for divorce – 3 Simple Steps

As specialist divorce solicitors, we are regularly contacted from people all around the world asking how to apply for divorce or how to divorce.

In this article, we will explain how to apply for divorce or how to divorce and reveal whether using a divorce solicitor is really necessary.


How to apply for divorce: Step 1

Before going into detail on how to apply for divorce, you need to understand the basis on which you are able to get a divorce in England and Wales.

You must have been married for at least one year and the UK must be your permanent home (or the permanent home of your spouse) in order to get a divorce here.


How to apply for divorce: Step 2

As well as working out how to apply for divorce, it is important to understand the ‘why’. In order to file for divorce in England and Wales, your marriage must have irretrievably broken down. This is the only reason you can apply to officially end your marriage.

You will need to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by providing one (or more) of five grounds for divorce. These are:

• Unreasonable behaviour
• Adultery
• Desertion
• Separation for 2 years (with consent from your spouse)
• Separation for 5 years or more (no consent necessary)

Agreeing the grounds for divorce with your spouse before you submit your divorce application to the court, can help to ensure that there are no delays caused by your spouse disagreeing with the grounds further down the line. However, this is not recommended in every instance, so it is important to seek legal advice for your circumstances when discussing how to apply for divorce with your solicitor.


How to apply for divorce: Step 3

Next, you will need to complete and file (submit) your divorce petition. This is arguably the most important part of the ‘how to apply for divorce’ process, as it is at this moment that the divorce process officially begins.

It is crucial to ensure that your divorce petition is filled in correctly, in order to avoid any unnecessary delays. Once your solicitor has explained how to apply for divorce and you have agreed that you would like to go ahead, they can complete your divorce petition for you under your instruction.

You can find a copy of the divorce petition on the government website, if you would like to look through it before your appointment.

Be aware that when we discuss how to apply for divorce, this does not include financial arrangements with your spouse. The financial side is not dealt with in the divorce proceedings and must be considered separately.

how to apply for divorce or how to divorce


How to apply for divorce: legal advice early on can be invaluable

Every divorce is different and no two families’ circumstances are the same. We would highly recommend that anyone wondering how to apply for divorce book an appointment with a specialist family solicitor, such as Austin Kemp, in order to receive legal advice tailored to their circumstances.


How to divorce explained

Going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult time, both emotionally and financially. Getting an understanding of how to divorce and how divorce proceedings work, as early on in the process as possible, can help to relieve some of the stress and put your mind at rest.


How to divorce: the key stages

When considering how to divorce, it can be helpful to have an overview of the process.

1. Decide your grounds for divorce
2. Complete your divorce petition
3. Submit your divorce petition to the court
4. Your spouse will receive the divorce application and an acknowledgement of service form
5. Your spouse will have to respond within 8 days
6. If they agree with the divorce, you can apply for the decree nisi
7. If they do not agree with the divorce, they must complete an ‘answer to divorce’ form (if you haven’t sought legal advice already, we would highly recommend you do so at this stage)
8. After you have applied for the decree nisi, the decree nisi will then be pronounced in court (you will be provided with a date for this)
9. Six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is pronounced, you can apply for the decree absolute
10. The decree absolute is the legal end of your marriage


How to divorce: what information will I need?

Your divorce petition will include:

• the names and birthdays of any children (even if they are over 18)
• a copy of your marriage certificate
• the name and address of your spouse


How to divorce: solicitor or no solicitor?

There is no legal requirement to have a solicitor in order to get a divorce. You could do your research on how to divorce and deal with the divorce proceedings by yourself. There are also companies offering you information on how to divorce online for a fee.

However, we would highly recommend anyone considering how to divorce obtain legal advice from a specialist divorce solicitor, that is tailored to their circumstances. Getting the right legal advice early on in the process, can help to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays from any mistakes on the divorce paperwork (incorrect grounds, for example).

As well as guiding you through the various stages of divorce proceedings, a solicitor can also help you work towards agreeing a fair financial settlement with your spouse and hopefully avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle. Although the financial settlement is separate to the divorce process itself, it is crucial to deal with how your assets will be split, or you could find yourself in trouble in the future.

A good divorce solicitor can advise you on not only the divorce process itself, but the implications of getting a divorce on, for example, your inheritance and pensions.

Solicitors deal with how to divorce every day and can spot and anticipate any potential problems or delays – and help you navigate through them.

What’s more, using a solicitor means you don’t have to worry about deadlines and paperwork and can focus on moving on with your life.


Thinking about how to apply for a divorce?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on how to apply for divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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15th December 2020

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