Divorce and Separation

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?
There is one ground or reason for divorce – the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down.’ Currently, there are five ways to prove this, and they are called the ‘facts’. For civil partnerships, slightly different rules apply.
The five facts that can be used to obtain a divorce in England and Wales

  1. Adultery – sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.*
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years separation with consent
  5. Five years separation.

*Adultery can only be used in a civil partnership dissolution if it’s happened with a member of the opposite sex. If it’s taken place with someone of the same sex, you’ll need to use ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead.
The person who starts the divorce is known as the Petitioner and the person who responds to the divorce is known as the Respondent.

What will I need?

  • A form D8 (which can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website)
  • Your husband or wife’s full name and address
  • Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy 
  • If you’ve changed your name since you got married – your marriage certificate or a deed poll as proof.

Steps involved in applying for a divorce or dissolution

  • The ‘petition’ form D8 is filed. You’ll need your ex-spouse or partner’s 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.
  • The acknowledgement form – this is sent to the respondent with a copy of the petition, and they must fill it in and return it to the court/divorce centre when they receive the divorce petition. They have 14 days to do this.
  • The certificate of entitlement to a divorce – this is issued once all the documents are received and confirms that you’re entitled to a divorce. If there’s anything that needs correcting, or more information needed, the court will usually ask for it at this stage.
  • Decree nisi – the halfway stage. The court has approved the divorce and does not see any reason why it can’t go ahead. You’re not actually divorced at this point – if there are any outstanding financial issues these need to be resolved before the divorce has been finalised.
  • Decree absolute – this is the document that finally ends your marriage, and you can usually apply for it after six weeks and one day from the decree nisi.

Civil Partnerships
The process is similar with a civil partnership, if your partner agrees to the dissolution.

  • File the D8 application form with the court as above, to be sent to the respondent.
  • If your partner agrees to the dissolution, once the forms are received confirming this, you can apply for a conditional order.
  • Six weeks from the date of the conditional order you can apply for the final order to dissolve the civil partnership. As with a divorce, if you need to legally sort out any financial issues, you should do this before applying for the final order.
  • (If your civil partner applied for a conditional order, you have to wait three months and six weeks after the date of the conditional order to apply yourself, if they haven’t. You/they also have to apply within 12 months of the first order or the court will want to know the reasons for the delay).

How long does it take to get a divorce / dissolution?
It usually takes between six and 12 months for an undefended divorce or dissolution to go from initial application to final order. Mostly, it depends on how busy the court office/divorce unit is and how quickly both parties respond to the paperwork.

The process can get held up if the parties can’t agree on important things like what happens to children or property, or in some cases if the paperwork isn’t completed properly. That’s where our experienced family law solicitors can help ease you through the procedure; we can give you advice on the legal issues, deal with the paperwork and guide you through the whole 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 are here to help.