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How to Get a Divorce in the UK

How to Get a Divorce in the UK – A Step by Step Guide to Starting the Process

woman hands holiding her ex-husbands wedding ring

Discover the step-by-step process and options for getting a divorce in the UK. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to begin the legal aspects of ending your marriage.

Understanding the New Divorce Process in England & Wales

Getting a divorce can seem overwhelming, especially with different laws for England and Wales compared to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The no-fault divorce came into law in March 2022.  The bill primarily removed the need to show your spouse has been unreasonable, committed adultery or wait for two to five years to prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

So the actual divorce process has become easier to do and to manage by yourself. We’re here to simplify the process for you step-by-step.

Starting Your Divorce Application

Someone begins the divorce process by applying to the court, saying the marriage is over. Or, both people can do it together with a joint application. You’ll need to pay a fee of £652, unless you’re exempt. Who pays depends on your relationship with your ex-partner and what you can agree.

To find out if you qualify for a court fee remission you can click here

Acknowledgement of Service

Next, your ex-partner gets a copy of the divorce petition and an acknowledgement form. They have 14 days to fill it out and send it back.

20-week Reflection Period

The new no-fault divorce law adds a 20-week waiting period from when you start the divorce process until the court can finalize it. This gives time for couples to sort out practical things like child arrangements and money.

Applying for the Conditional Order

You ask the court to move forward with the divorce by applying for a conditional order.

Court Reviews Your Application

If the court approves, they’ll give you a Certificate of Entitlement to show when the conditional order was made. This usually takes a few weeks.

The Court Grants the Conditional Order

You’re officially divorced, but there’s a six-week break before you can apply for the final order. This gives time for couples to sort out money matters if they haven’t already.

Applying for a Financial Order

If you’ve agreed on money matters, you can ask the court to approve it. This stops any future money claims and ends financial ties.

Read our ultimate guide to a Financial Consent Order to find out more.

Applying for the Final Order

You apply to the court to legally end your marriage.

The Court Grants the Final Order

Within about 24 hours, you’ll get the final order, legally ending your marriage and allowing you to remarry.

A straightforward divorce in England and Wales usually takes around 6-7 months.

This process will take longer if you have to serve papers on your ex or if you cannot agree on the financial or child arrangements.



The FIVE Options to process a divorce

  1. You can start the divorce process yourself online.
  2. You can use an online divorce service.
  3. You can use a family law solicitor to do it for you.
  4. You can get help from a Mackenzie friend.
  5. You can use a Mediate UK legal divorce package.


Remember, the process to legally undo your marriage is separate to the financial and child arrangements – although they usually run alongside.

Applying for a divorce will not automatically get the court to consider the financial agreement between you or the parenting arrangements. These would all be separate applications.

For example, you may process the divorce yourself online, use a family mediation service to agree the child arrangements and use a family law solicitor to help you finalise the financial arrangements. Or you may be able to do it all yourself.

However you decide to process the divorce, Mediate UK wish you all the best in your future and remember, we are available for a free 15-minute phone call to help get you started on the right footing.

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