How to File for a Divorce in the UK

Contemplating getting a divorce is an emotional time and beginning the legal process to end a marriage is often a difficult decision to make.  

However, if you have reached a point where divorce seems like the only way forward, you will no doubt want expert legal advice from our Divorce Solicitors. Divorce can be complicated, but with clear legal advice you can ensure your family’s best interests, and your financial future, are protected.

What is the divorce process: a step by step guide

  1. Establish whether you are eligible for divorce 

The first thing to ascertain is whether you can get divorced. In England and Wales to get divorced you must have been married for at least a year and able to demonstrate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. 

  1. Determine the reason for the divorce 

Next, you need to establish the grounds for divorce. There are five grounds for divorce: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, living apart for more than two years and living apart for at least five years, in this instance, you can apply for divorce even if the other party disagrees. 

  1. Begin the divorce filing process 

The next part of the process is to file for a divorce. To do this you will need your marriage certificate and to complete a divorce petition form. You will also need to pay the fee, (currently £550), to begin the process. After this point the partner not filing for divorce will have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the divorce. 

  1. Decree nsi pronouncement 

If both parties agree to the divorce, a decree nisi can be applied for. A judge will review the grounds for divorce and if they agree, a decree nisi will be granted. If the judge does not agree, you will be told why and what to do next. 

  1. Financial order application 

From the issue of the decree nisi you must wait six weeks before you can apply for a decree absolute. Once issued, the decree absolute ends the marriage and you become legally divorced. 

Of course, while all divorces will follow this process, depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, the process can vary in timescale. 

For example, where there are issues surrounding child custody, financial matters and dividing up assets, sorting matters out in a fair and agreed upon way, can take time.

Need help from one of our expert divorce solicitors?

Acting in our clients’ best interests, our team of family law solicitors use their legal expertise to handle all aspects of divorce proceedings, including: 

• Drafting divorce proceedings 

• Advising on all issues regarding children 

• Drafting separation deeds 

• Advising on all financial matters including maintenance, pension sharing/offsetting and division of assets 

• Representing clients in court proceedings 

Your first visit with a divorce solicitor will most likely be about fact-finding – on both sides. Your solicitor will want to know the relevant facts that have led to the breakdown of the marriage. They will also need to see proof of ID and will need the full contact details of the other party. 

The meeting will also present an opportunity for you to learn more about the divorce process and ask any questions you may have. 

Common questions include, how do I file a divorce? How long will the process take? What will happen to the children? And will I have to sell my home? 

If you are considering divorce, our team of family solicitors are on hand to support and guide you through the process. With expertise across all aspects of family law, including child custody matters, you can be sure to receive a supportive and informed approach to your case. 


If you’d like to find out more about the legal services offered by Smith Partnership, don’t hesitate to contact us via Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0330 123 1229. 

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