Divorce and Separation

Contact Vanessa Gillbanks

01206 299 282  or 01473 937 888  Gillbanks Family Law


Divorce and Dissolution

If your marriage or civil partnership has broken down and you want to know how to divorce your spouse, or dissolve a civil partnership, our specialist Ipswich and Colchester divorce lawyers are here to help.
To get divorced or apply for a dissolution (with a civil partnership) you need to first have been married or in a civil partnership for a period of at least 12 months. You can apply after 12 months and one day has passed.

What are the ‘grounds’ for divorce or dissolution?
After the 6/4/22 a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is required. Pre 6/4/22 it was necessary to prove the marriage had broken down irretrievably by proving one of the following 5 facts.

The person who starts the divorce is known as the Applicant formerly (Petitioner) and the person who responds to the divorce is known as the Respondent. It is however now possible to have joint applications although these should not be rushed into and are more likely to be suited to those who have already resolved other issues like financial arrangements for the future and arrangements for any children.


The procedure will be different depending on whether proceedings were issued before or after 6/4/22. A divorce portal now exists for divorces although currently paper forms can still be used in some cases. Our divorce solicitors  in Ipswich Colchester and nationally can help with any issues with the divorces filed pre 6/4/22 and those issued or to be issued after 6/4/22.

What will I need to Start divorce proceedings

  • Your husband or wife’s full name and address and email address if known and details of any solicitors they have instructed.
  • Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy
  • If you’ve changed your name since you got married name change or declaration document confirming the change.
  • Any necessary documents translated if married outside of England and Wales.

Steps now involved in applying for a divorce or Civil Partnerships

  • The proceedings are started. You’ll need your ex-spouse or partner’s address and email address for this as a copy will need to be sent to them. If you don’t have it, there are procedures that our Ipswich and Colchester family lawyers will be able to help you with.
  • Once issued the application will need to be served on the Respondent within 28 days either by the court or by the person making the application or their lawyers. The Respondent will be asked to acknowledge he has received notice of the application and the applicant will need this to proceed to the next step.
  • Once evidence the respondent has been served and 20 weeks passed from the date of issue of the application, the applicant can apply for a conditional order (formerly known as the decree nis of divorce). This is the nearly divorced stage when the court confirms that they cannot see any reason why it should not end the marriage. You remain married at this time though.
  • After 6 weeks and a day from the conditional order the applicant can apply for a final order (formerly called Decree absolute)- this is the document that finally ends your marriage and or civil partnership.
  • You should seek legal advice before applying for the final divorce order
  • You should ensure that you have resolved financial issues by obtaining a financial remedy order before applying for your final divorce order or you may lose the opportunity of claiming or pursing an application.

Judicial separation and Nullity proceedings
Will continue to be made using the paper applications at this time.

Judicial separation – Legal separation allows people to live apart without divorcing or ending the marriage or civil partnership. This may be required for religious reasons or if the parties have not been married for 12 months.
 Applications for Judicial separation are a two -stage process and can be made by one party or jointly.

  1. Initial application made on D8S
  2. The application for judicial separation order D84

Nullity proceedings
These will continue to be dealt with by paper applications and can only be made by one party. There has been no substantive change to the procedure for these other than new forms and amendment to terminology and rules around allowing email service.

How long does it take to get a divorce / dissolution?
The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 now means that a divorce will take at least 6 months (26 weeks).

  • Application issued
  • Wait 20 weeks to apply conditional order
  • Wait 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for final order.

In practice though we are seeing the divorces taking much longer to complete due to delays in the court system and online portals processing the applications. The divorce can also be delayed if there is no agreement on financial issues and or due to the delays in resolving those issues through the court process.

If you would like to talk to us about divorce or dissolving a civil partnership, or want advice on issues surrounding finances, property and children, our experienced family lawyers and solicitors are here to help.

contact Vanessa Gillbanks   vanessa@gillbanksfamilylaw.com  01206 299 282 01473 937 888