About Divorce In England And Wales


How do I get a Divorce ?
When can I get a Divorce ?
Must I explain why I want a Divorce ?
Do I have to live in this country to get a Divorce here ?
Will I need a solicitor ?
Will I have to attend court ?
How much will it cost ?
Will I need a copy of my marriage certificate
Where can I get a copy of my marriage certificate if I do not have one?
What next ?


How do I get a divorce?


 

By filling in a form called a "petition" and taking it to any divorce county court or to the Principal Registry in London. The addresses and telephone numbers of all divorce county courts are listed in the telephone directory under Courts.


When can I get a divorce?


 

You cannot start a petition for divorce unless you have been married for more than one year.


Must I explain why I want a divorce?


 

Yes, you must be able to prove to the court that you have reasons ( or "grounds") for saying the marriage is at an end. The expression the court will use is that the marriage has "irretrievably broken down". The court will accept one or more of the following grounds as proof:

  • that your husband or wife has committed adultery
  • that your husband's or wife's behaviour has been so bad that you can no longer bear to live with them
  • that your husband or wife deserted you at least two years ago
  • that you and your husband or wife have lived apart for two years and he or she agrees to a divorce
  • that you and your husband or wife have lived apart for at least five years


Do I have to Live in this country to get a divorce here?


 

You or your husband or wife, must have your (or their) permanent home in England or Wales when the petition is started, or have been living in England or Wales for at least a year on the day the petition is started.


Will I need a solicitor ?


 

Probably not but you will find it useful to have some legal advice before starting your petition if:

  • you do not know whether you have grounds for a divorce
  • your husband or wife is not likely to agree to a divorce
  • you have not agreed with your husband or wife who the children should live with
  • you have not agreed about any financial support for the children or yourself, or about any property
  • The court will give you the forms you need and tell you what to do next. The forms are free

If you do need help filling in the forms a Citizens Advice Bureau will help. Remember that court staff are not solicitors. They cannot give legal advice or answer questions like:

  • Should I claim financial support?
  • Do I have proper reasons for a divorce?
  • What will happen to the house I own with my husband or wife?


Will I have to attend court ?

 


 

If you can agree with your husband or wife about financial support, property and the arrangements for any children, you may not have to attend a court hearing at all. You may have to attend a court hearing if you ask the court to make an order for financial support or cannot agree about the arrangements for the children.


How much will it cost ?


 

You may have to pay a fee for the following:

  • to start your petition
  • the document which shows you are divorced - The decree absolute
  • any application for financial support or about any children .

You will not have to pay fees for any of the above if you are:

  • being advised by a solicitor under the Legal Advice and Assistance Scheme ( the "Green Form" scheme)
  • receiving one of the following benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Family Credit
    • Income based job Seekers Allowance
    • Disability Working Allowance


Will I need a copy of my marriage certificate ?


 

Yes. You will have to give a copy to the court when you start your petition. It will be kept on the court file. The copy must not be a photocopy.


Where can I get a copy of my marriage certificate if I do not have one?

 


 

If you were married in England or Wales, you can get a copy from the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district in which you were married. You can get the address from the phone book. You will have to pay a fee, and they will tell you how much it is.
You can also get a copy from:

    The Registrar General
    ONS Southport
    Smedley Hydro
    Trafalgar Road
    Birkdale
    Southport PR8 2HH
    Tel: 0151 471 4200

You cannot call into this office. You can only apply by post. You should send a cheque or postal order for the correct amount. Cheques should be made out to "HM Paymaster General".

You can call into the office at the:

    Office for National Statistics,
    Family Records Centre,
    1 Middleton Street,
    London,
    EClR 1UW

There will be a charge for your copy, The office will tell you how much it is. They will want to know:

  • date and place of your marriage
  • Your full name
  • the full name of your husband or wife


What next ?

 


 

If you decide to go ahead and start a petition, read I want to get a divorce - what do I do

If you have children you should also read Children and divorce.