1. Overview

You can get a divorce if you have been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down.

You must have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK, and have a permanent home in England or Wales.

There are 3 main steps to getting divorced:

  1. File a divorce petition - you have to apply to the court for permission to divorce, and show reasons why you want the marriage to end.

  2. Apply for a decree nisi - if your spouse agrees to the petition, you’ll get a document saying there’s no reason you can’t divorce.

  3. Apply for a decree absolute - this legally ends your marriage - you need to wait 6 weeks after you get the decree nisi before you can apply.

Arrange your own divorce

You may be able to arrange your own divorce without involving solicitors if you agree on:

  • the reasons for a divorce
  • how you’ll look after any children
  • how you’ll split up money, property and possessions

If you agree on these things beforehand, you won’t have to go to a court hearing, and the divorce paperwork should be fairly straightforward.

You can get mediation to help work out an agreement with your husband or wife about money, property or children. You may be able to get legal aid to help pay for mediation.

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