When can I get a divorce?

After you have been married for a year. You must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

How long does a divorce take?

The only basis is ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of marriage. However, you have to prove this with one of these reasons (known as ‘facts’):

  • Adultery: The person bringing the divorce (known as the ‘petitioner’ must prove that their spouse (called the ‘respondent’) has committed adultery and that they cannot live with them any longer
  • Unreasonable behaviour: The petitioner needs to prove the respondent acted in a way that makes it impossible to live with any longer. It is important that the examples you give are enough to convince the judge that the behaviour is intolerable
  • A two-year separation, where you both agree to get divorced: You must be able to show that you have been separated for a minimum continuous period of two years
  • A five-year separation, where only one spouse consents to the divorce: the petitioner must show that they and the respondent have been separated for at least five continuous years

Can I use my own adultery as a reason for divorce?

No. Your spouse has to divorce you or you must use a different reason from the above list above.

I have been separated for two years. Am I automatically entitled to a divorce?

No. You need your spouse’s consent first. If you have already sent the divorce papers to court but your spouse does not agree to a divorce, you need to get the petition dismissed and start again from the beginning. Make sure you check that your spouse consents to a divorce before you start the process.

I still live in the same home as my spouse. Can I start divorce proceedings?

Yes, as long as you are not living as man and wife (i.e. sharing a bedroom or domestic tasks) before the date you file the petition.

What will happen to our children?

When you start the divorce process, you must give the court a statement about arrangements you have made for your children. The court will not make these arrangements binding, but they do need to consider the children’s welfare. If they are satisfied your plans are in line with the children’s welfare, they will approve them.

Our Experts

Philippa Morgan

Philippa Morgan

Head of Family Law

Email: [email protected]

Direct Dial: 0117 904 5923

Iona Phillips

Partner/ Deputy Group Leader: Family Law

Email: [email protected]

Direct Dial: 0117 904 5878

Carol Chrisfield

Family Law Solicitor

Email: [email protected]

Direct Dial: 0117 904 5958

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