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UK Divorce Process Stages – Step By Step

The UK divorce process changed in April 2022, when the new No Fault Divorce was introduced. Compared to the previous UK divorce process, things are much simpler, without the requirement of explaining why a marriage has failed. However, the downside of the new divorce process is that you must wait a minimum of 6 months before the marriage can be legally ended. The old divorce process didn’t have a minimum period. You could theoretically get divorced within a few months.

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Here are the steps I had to go through to get divorced using the new (April 2022) divorce process. The steps below are only meant to give you a rough idea of what to expect.

STEP 1  – Divorce Application

I did my divorce application online, but you can also do it by post. 
My ex-wife and I both wanted the divorce, so we did a joint application. I’m not sure what happens if one of you wants to get divorced and the other doesn’t. I assume the process will be a bit more complex and probably slower.

The online application process is really simple and will only take about 15 minutes to complete. 

You should be aware that the online divorce process is to end your marriage legally. It has nothing to do with finances and child care, which must be sorted separately.

All you need to do to apply for a divorce is:

  • One of you need to start the divorce application process by going to  https://www.gov.uk/divorce/file-for-divorce 

  • Create an account

  • Provide some personal details, name, address etc

  • Upload a copy of your marriage certificate

  • Pay the divorce application fee (the fee has to be paid as a single payment)

  • Submit the application

After submitting the form, your partner will receive an email requesting they complete their side. Again, this is super simple: they agree with the divorce and have to enter some personal details.

There are no imposed time restrictions on applying for a divorce, so theoretically, it could be done in under 1 hour.

The only question on the application form that might not be clear is whether you are ‘Intending to apply to the court to make a financial order’.

This is asking if you are getting a court to approve how the finances will be divided legally. You definitely want to get a financial order, as apart from agreeing to the division of all assets, it also prevents your partner from coming after you for future assets after you’re divorced. 

STEP 2 – Conditional Order

Once you and your partner have submitted the divorce application, you must wait 20 weeks before you can apply for the Conditional Order. The 20 weeks is a cooling-off period for you to make 100% sure that you want to get divorced. Unfortunately, there is no way that this cooling-off period can be shortened.

The Conditional Order simply says the court sees no reason why the marriage can’t be ended. The Conditional Order certificate will have details on when you can apply for the Final Order.

If applying online the Conditional Order certificate can be found as a PDF file in your online divorce portal.

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STEP 3 –  Final Order

Not sure why, but after the Conditional Order has been approved, you have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day before you can apply for the final order.

Before you apply for the final order it is very important that you’ve got all your finances sorted out with a Financial Order. Once the Final Order is approved, everything that has been agreed in the Financial Order becomes legally binding.

The Final Order means that you are legally divorced……..woohoo.

What happens if it takes over a year to apply for the Final Order after applying for the Conditional Order?

If, like me, it’s taken longer than a year to apply for the Final Order after the Conditional Order application, you must explain why it has taken over a year.

My solicitor said to give the following reasons:

  • Seeking legal advice to resolve the matrimonial finances. These have now been dealt with by way of a consent order.

  • Confirmed I have not had any period of reconciliation with my wife between the Conditional Order and application for the Final Order

  • That my then-wife had not given birth since the conditional order was made.

How long does the Final Order take?

It generally only takes a maximum of 2 working days. My Final Order took about 5 days to come through. I think this may have been because I had to give reasons for it taking over a year to submit the final order after the conditional order was submitted.

My Thoughts On The No-Fault Divorce Process

  • The online no-fault divorce process is very simple. I didn’t require any help from a divorce solicitor to complete the process other than the reasons for the Final Order taking over a year to submit after the Conditional Order. 

  • The minimum amount of time it takes to get legally divorced in the UK is just over 6 months. There is no way that this can be speeded up. So when you see the ‘quickie divorce’ sites online, they can not make the process go any faster than 6 months. 

  • I’d recommend doing the divorce process online rather than by post. It is very simple to do and all the documents and certificates are stored online for you. 

  • The no-fault divorce process only involves getting your marriage legally ended. You will need to sort out finances and childcare separately. This may well require the help of a divorce solicitor

  • Typically you do not apply for the Final Order until all the finances and childcare stuff has been sorted.

Conclusion: UK Divorce Process

The three steps outlined above are universal for anyone seeking to terminate their marriage through a joint UK divorce application process. The no-fault divorce process was by far the easiest part of my divorce.

It was sorting out all the financials and childcare that required much more time and effort.


Frequently Asked Questions: UK Divorce Process Stages


How long does the divorce process take?

The duration of the divorce process in the UK can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of your situation, whether the divorce is contested, and how quickly you and your spouse can agree on financial settlements and arrangements for any children.

The quickest amount of time you can get divorced in the UK is 6 months. The average UK divorce takes 8 months. If you end up going to court, the divorce process can take 2 years or longer!

The two main factors that affects how long the divorce process takes are:

  • Length of marriage – The longer you have been married the longer the divorce process will take

  • Children – If you have children, then the divorce process will take longer than for those who don’t have children

How to start a divorce process UK?

Starting a divorce process in the UK can vary slightly depending on where in the UK you are filing for divorce England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

  1. Check Eligibility for divorce: Ensure you meet the criteria for a divorce. You must have been married for at least one year, and your relationship must have permanently broken down. 

  2. Grounds for Divorce: The UK has introduced ‘no-fault’ divorces, meaning you do not need to provide evidence. You only need to declare that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

  3. Divorce Application: Complete the divorce application form (D8 form for England and Wales). You can do this online or by obtaining a paper form.

  4. File the Application: Submit your completed application to the court. 

  5. Serve the Papers: Once the court has processed your application, they will send a copy to your spouse. Your spouse will have the opportunity to respond to agree on the divorce, contest the divorce, or refuse to cooperate.

How much does divorce cost in the UK?

It is very difficult to estimate how much a divorce is going to cost as everyone’s divorce will be different.

A rough guide to divorce costs:

Simple Divorce Cost
For a very simple divorce that basically just involves submitting the paperwork to get divorced, then expect to pay about £1000

Divorce Involving Solicitors Cost
A divorce that involves solicitors to help resolve disputes, expect to pay at least £3000

Divorce Court Costs
A divorce involving going to court will likely cost £10,000 plus. Going to court is best avoided as the costs can quickly skyrocket into the 10’s thousands 





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