When getting a divorce in England or Wales the divorce process differs slightly depending on whether or not the divorce is contested – meaning one person does not agree to the divorce, or certain aspects of the divorce.
How to Get a Divorce: First Step
The first thing to do when getting a divorce is to decide on the reason for your divorce. People often call this Grounds for Divorce but in English Law there is only one ground for divorce: that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to prove this you must choose one of the five facts of divorce. These are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- You’ve been separated for 2 years and you both agree to the divorce
- You’ve been separated for 5 years
How to Get a Divorce: Divorce Papers
When you decide on the reason for divorce, the person applying for the divorce, called the Petitioner, must complete the divorce papers required for the Divorce Petition. The divorce papers should be sent to the local Divorce Centre, along with the marriage certificate and the Court fee which is currently £550.
The Divorce Centre will then send the Divorce Petition papers to the other person, called the Respondent. The Respondent has 8 days to return the Acknowledgement of Service form to the Divorce Centre.
What happens next depends on whether the Respondent agrees to the divorce, or wishes to defend (contest) the divorce.
Where the divorce is uncontested (both people agree on getting a divorce), the Respondent should return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Divorce Centre. The Petitioner can then apply for a Decree Nisi.
Once the Decree Nisi has been issued, the Petitioner must wait 6 weeks, after which he/she can apply for a Decree Absolute. Or the Respondent can apply, but he/she must wait an additional 3 months before applying. When the Decree Absolute is granted, the marriage is officially over.
Where the divorce is contested (one person does not agree), the Respondent should return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Divorce Centre. He/she then has 21 days to provide an Answer stating what aspects of the divorce they do not agree to. Typically disputes arise over the grounds for divorce, or divorce-related issues such as the division of assets and child custody.
In a contested divorce, each person should get independent legal advice. A Family Law & Divorce Lawyer can advise on ways to resolve the disputes, including Mediation.
If an agreement cannot be reached, you will need to go to Court for a Divorce Hearing. A Judge will hear the case and reach a decision on your behalf. It is possible to apply for a Decree Absolute before this, but it’s a good idea to wait until the Divorce Settlement has been finalised with a Court Order.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Divorce?
At Co-op Legal Services our Fixed Fee Divorce costs £600 including VAT and provides you with a Divorce Lawyer to help you through the usual steps in an uncontested divorce.
For contested divorce our Divorce Lawyers offer fixed hourly rates starting from £210 per hour including VAT.
Once we have provided you with a written quote for getting a divorce, that price will not change.