To obtain a divorce you need to present a Petition to the Court after you have been married for one year. The person presenting the Petition must show that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. This irretrievable breakdown has to be supported by one of the following five reasons:-

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for two years
  • Separation for two years (with the other party’s consent)
  • Separation for five years (the consent of the other party is not necessary)

The petitioner files the petition with other relevant documents together with a court fee unless Fee Exemption is applicable.

The court sends the petition to the other party who then files an Acknowledgement of Service. If the District Judge is satisfied with the documentation, a Decree Nisi will be granted on application and six weeks later a Decree Absolute can be granted. It is that document which finalises the divorce and should only be applied for once financial issues have been resolved. This procedure has been in place since the Matrimonial Causes Act was past in 1973.

Judicial Separation

This is dealt with in the same way as divorce proceedings, but at the end of the procedure the couple will not be divorced and there is no Decree Absolute. Within the judicial separation process the court can deal with financial issues and any other orders that are relevant.


There is no formal procedure that a couple have to go through in order to separate. If there is a division of assets on separation it is advisable for parties to enter into a formal Separation Deed to record the agreement reached at the time of the separation.

Charles Goodbody Partner Head of Family and Private Client Warminster

Charles Goodbody

Please Contact

01985 214444

kate brown

Kate Brown
Head of Family Department

Please Contact

01985 214444

Dennis McNamara Family Executive Andover

Dennis Mcnamara
Family Executive

Please Contact

01264 333336

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