1. Overview

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.

Getting a divorce is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

You must have a marriage that’s legally recognised in the UK. 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.

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 you can apply for a decree nisi.

  3. Apply for a decree absolute. This legally ends your marriage. You need to wait at least 6 weeks after the date of the decree nisi before you can apply. You can remarry when you have the decree absolute.

Arrange your own divorce

You can arrange your own divorce without involving solicitors.

If you agree that your marriage has permanently broken down, you won’t have to go to a court hearing. The court will deal with your divorce based on the paperwork.

The paperwork should be fairly straightforward if you agree on the reasons for the divorce.

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.