How to Get a Divorce in the UK

Marriage is a significant milestone in our lives, representing a union of love, commitment, and partnership. It is an endeavour filled with shared hopes, desires, and, at times, challenges that couples must overcome together. However, for various reasons, some marriages may reach a point where continuing together is no longer viable, leading individuals to consider the difficult decision of divorce. 

A divorce is the formal dissolution of a married relationship by a court. It formally ends the marital relationship between two individuals, dissolving their legal obligations and responsibilities to each other as spouses. This blog post will help you understand the divorce process in the UK. 

Requirements To Get a Divorce

The UK law outlines specific criteria that must be satisfied for a pair to be qualified for divorce or dissolution. Understanding these requirements is the first step in navigating the divorce process. 

First and foremost, for a divorce to be considered, you and your spouse must have been married for over a year. This stipulation ensures that couples have had sufficient time to consider their relationship’s future. 

The foundational basis for any divorce is the permanent deterioration of the marriage. This indicates that the partnership is at a stage where it cannot be recovered or restored. In the past, applicants were required to provide evidence-based reasons, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, etc, to prove the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

However, with no-fault divorce laws that came into effect in April 2022, there is no need to cite the reasons. This shift was implemented to reduce conflict between parties, removing the need to blame one another. 

The no-fault divorce process aims to make the dissolution of marriage as straightforward and amicable as possible, acknowledging that sometimes, marriages end without a specific fault lying with either party.

Things To Consider Before Applying for a Divorce

Before filing a divorce application, it’s recommended that you and your partner attempt to agree on the following critical issues:

  •  In divorce proceedings, wealth division is often a complex aspect. Determining how to split your assets fairly can be beneficial to avert disputes later on.
  • Decide whether the family home will be sold and split or any other arrangement.
  • If there are children, their interests should be the top priority. Agreeing on their living arrangements and how you will co-parent is essential for their stability and well-being.
  • If your right to live in the UK depends on your marital status, it’s important to understand how divorce or dissolution might affect your visa. You may need to apply for a new visa to remain in the UK, and failing to do so could result in having to leave the country. 
  • Before starting the application, discussing and agreeing on who will cover the costs associated with divorce or dissolution is advisable. Costs can include court fees, solicitor fees, and any expenses related to dividing assets or arranging child support. 
  • Decide whether you will need a solicitor. While it’s possible to manage your divorce independently, solicitors experienced in family law can guide you through the legal procedure and offer advice on critical decisions for the best resolution.

Steps To Get a Divorce or Dissolution in the UK

The process of ending a marriage or civil partnership through divorce or dissolution can be straightforward if you understand the steps involved. The UK’s divorce procedure has been designed to be as clear and concise as possible, especially with the recent reforms to no-fault divorce. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Start the Divorce Application

Submit an application to the court to initiate your divorce. You can do this either online or through traditional post. Your application should include your name and address, your spouse’s information, and the certified copy of the marriage certificate. You can now opt for a joint application with your spouse, potentially simplifying and speeding up the process. 

2. Acknowledgement of Service

Following your application, the next step is the acknowledgement of service. This step confirms that both parties are aware of the divorce proceedings and have had the opportunity to respond. If you apply alone, your spouse will receive a copy of the petition and must return an acknowledgement form within 14 days stating their stance on the divorce. 

3. The Reflection Period

After acknowledging the service, there’s a 20-week period to reflect on your decision and negotiate agreements on finances and childcare, if applicable. This cooling-off duration is created to provide both parties time to make thoughtful decisions about their future.

4. Apply for the Conditional Order

Once the reflection period has begun, you can file for a conditional order. This step recognises that the court finds no grounds to stop the divorce. You can apply or do so through post by filling out Form D84. 

5. Certificate of Entitlement

The court will check your conditional order application and issue a Certificate of Entitlement if everything is in order. This document informs you when the conditional order will be presented, generally within a few weeks from the application.

6. The Court Grants the Conditional Order

Receiving the conditional order means the court approves your divorce in principle, though you remain legally married until the final order is issued. This stage also introduces another waiting duration, allowing time for any financial agreements to be legally recognised through a consent order.

7. Apply for a Financial Order

During the six-week period, you can file for a financial consent order. This optional step legally ends financial ties and prevents future claims against each other’s assets.

8. Apply for the Final Order

After waiting for the period of conditional order, you can apply for the final order, the legal manuscript that concludes your marriage. This application can also be submitted online or through the post.

Upon reviewing the order, the court typically grants the divorce within 24 hours. After the final decree is given, your marriage is formally ended, and you may remarry if you wish.

Consider getting legal advice from UK divorce solicitors for detailed guidance and support, which is beneficial, especially if your divorce involves any complexities or specific circumstances.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Understanding the financial aspects of divorce is crucial for planning and ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible. The cost involved include:

Court Fees

The initial cost to be aware of is the court fee for filing a divorce application, which is £593. This fee is mandatory whether you’re applying alone or jointly with your partner. If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get help with these fees through a government scheme.

Solicitor’s Fees

If you choose to hire a solicitor to handle your divorce, be ready to pay the fee. Solicitor expenses can differ significantly based on their location, experience, expertise, and the specifics of your case. 

Legal fees can be significantly higher for more complex cases, like disputes over assets, custody, or contested divorces.

Financial Orders

If you and your spouse need to settle financial matters, such as the division of property, pensions, savings, or ongoing financial support, you may need to apply for a financial order, which also requires a charge.


Mediation is another cost-effective alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. It is instrumental in resolving disputes over assets, finances, or children. Mediators charge varying rates, but this route is often less expensive than going through the courts or engaging solicitors for negotiations.

Additional Costs

Other costs may be associated with getting divorced, like getting a certified copy of your marriage certificate if you do not already have one. Also, if your case requires specific legal documents to be translated or if substantial assets need professional valuation, these services will incur extra fees.

Ready for a New Beginning? Let Us Help!

Divorce can be stressful, yet a significant step towards recovering control of your life and well-being. At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, our dedicated divorce lawyers understand this process’s complexities and emotional challenges. We are here to offer you compassionate, professional legal guidance tailored to your particular circumstances. 

Our team is ready to guide you through every step of the divorce process, from filing your application to negotiating financial settlements and custody arrangements. We seek to make this transition smooth and stress-free, ensuring your interests are protected.

Contact us today for a consultation and explore how we can assist you.


If you want a divorce, start by collecting your marriage certificate and financial documents. Consider obtaining legal advice to acknowledge your rights and choices. Then, decide if you’ll apply alone or jointly with your spouse. You can file for divorce online at the website or by post, following the outlined legal process.

The duration of a divorce process in the UK can vary. The introduction of the no-fault divorce system includes a mandatory 20-week reflection period from the time of filing the application to when you can apply for a conditional order. Overall, the process can take around 6 months or more. 

Yes, it’s possible to manage your divorce without a solicitor, especially if it’s uncontested and you and your spouse agree on the terms. This is often referred to as a “DIY divorce.” However, even in straightforward cases, seeking legal advice can help ensure your rights are protected and all paperwork is completed correctly.

A no-fault divorce is a legal process that allows couples to end their marriage without the need to prove fault or blame. It was introduced in the UK to help reduce conflict and make the divorce process more straightforward. Under this system, the only requirement is a statement from one or both parties that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The division of property in a divorce can be complex and depends on various factors, including each party’s financial contribution, future needs, and any children’s needs. Ideally, couples can reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation. If an arrangement can’t be achieved, the court may determine the division based on what’s considered fair and equitable.

Divorce is for married couples, while the dissolution of a civil partnership is for couples in a civil partnership. Both of the processes are similar.

Ask our Expert Legal Team

At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

Call us on +44 (0) 207 269 9590 or fill out the form below. We usually reply within a few hours.

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