Guiding and supporting you through your divorce

Whether you have made a firm decision that your marriage is over or are unsure as to your future, it is often helpful to be aware of the basic facts of divorce.

We recognise that the breakdown of a marriage or relationship for many reasons is extremely stressful and we will guide and support you through the process to make it as stress free as possible

A divorce can only be started after you have been married for one year and then you must show the court that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” relying on one of five facts:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two year’s separation where both of you agree to the divorce
  • Five year’s separation
  • Desertion


The divorce process

When you start divorce proceedings you tell the court the basis upon which you are applying for a divorce in a document called a Petition. The Petition will also set out basic details about your marriage. The Petition must be accompanied by your original marriage certificate and the court fee. The person who starts the divorce proceedings is called the Petitioner and the other person the Respondent.

If the Respondent agrees to the divorce he or she will return to the court a form confirming this. Once this has been received, the Petitioner can apply to the court for a Decree Nisi. This is the first decree of divorce. It does not bring the marriage to an end. After six weeks, the Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute or final decree of divorce. It is the Decree Absolute which ends the marriage. If the Petitioner fails to apply for the Decree Absolute, the Respondent may apply after a further three months.

Although divorce procedure can appear to be fault-based, as one person must apply for the divorce and the other respond, the Courts are keen to avoid antagonism between parties as much as possible. Save in exceptional circumstances it is wise to draft the Petition in a way that will minimise the potential areas of dispute between you. So far as is possible it is best to try and agree the details of the petition before issue.