Divorce procedure explained

The basic legal requirements: 

  • You need to have been married for at least one year and one of you has to have been resident in England or Wales
  • The court needs to be satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, usually by relying on one of the following facts:
    o Adultery
    o Unreasonable behaviour
    o Desertion
    o Two years separation (with consent)
    o Five years separation

The simple mechanics of the process:
A marriage is brought to an end by the court making two decrees.  A Decree Nisi which decrees that the court is satisfied that there are grounds for a divorce and the correct legal process has been followed.  Then not less than six weeks and one day later the Decree Absolute brings the marriage to an end.

The basic steps explained (“a simple divorce”)

  • Petition for divorce filed – one of the parties (the Petitioner) prepares this legal document and sends it to the court and their spouse.
  • Acknowledgement  & answer – the spouse prepares a separate legal document indicating whether the divorce is to be contested.
  • Request for a Decree Nisi – this legal document is usually prepared by the Petitioner’s solicitor and sent to the court.
  • Pronouncement’ of the Decree – if the court is satisfied with the grounds and the process has been followed the court will make this first decree in court (there is usually no need for either party to attend)
  • Application for Decree Absolute  - the Petitioner applies to the court to make the Decree Absolute.
  • Decree Absolute -  the court, if it is satisfied with the process, will make this decree and the marriage comes to an end.


Call us for free and without obligation.

Please telephone and speak to one of our family and divorce solicitors for free on 0800 037 1625 or fill in the online form to request a call back and someone will ring you within 24 hours.

You can access any of our lawyers at any of our offices spread throughout Surrey, Hampshire and Greater London including Kingston upon Thames, Bordon, Cheam, Canary Wharf, Leatherhead, Raynes Park, Surbiton, Tolworth or Walton on Thames.