Get a divorce

1. Getting a divorce

You can get a divorce in England or Wales if you’ve been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down.

You must have a marriage that’s legally recognised in the UK - this includes same-sex marriage. You must usually also have a permanent home in England or Wales.

If your permanent home isn’t in England or Wales, check the ‘D8 notes’ guidance to find out if the court has ‘jurisdiction’ to deal with your divorce.

Getting a divorce is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How to get a divorce

You must send paperwork to a court to apply for a divorce.

Separate from the paperwork, you and your ex-partner need to work out:

You also need to divide your money and property. There’s a deadline if you want to make this legally binding.

You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree about children, money and property and the reasons for ending your marriage.

Get help agreeing on issues

You can use a mediator. Check if you can get legal aid to help pay for mediation.

You can also get advice on making agreements from:

Get your divorce paperwork approved

There are 3 main steps to asking a court to approve your divorce paperwork.

  1. You have to apply to the court to file for a divorce and show the reasons why you want the marriage to end.

  2. You’ll be granted a decree nisi if your ex-partner doesn’t defend your reasons for a divorce. If they do defend it then you can still apply for a decree nisi, but you’ll have to go to a court hearing to discuss the case.

  3. You can apply for a decree absolute 6 weeks after you’re granted the decree nisi. This will legally end your marriage and allow you to remarry.