Divorce and dissolution of civil partnership

Divorce  and dissolution (for civil partnership) is the formal ending of the legal relationship between the spouses or partners. This requires a court order. The courts also have wide powers to adjust the couple’s property and money, and for enforcement of property and money orders.


A person who wants a divorce starts by filling in a form called a “petition” and taking it to a divorce county court or, in London, to the Principal Registry.  The marriage must have lasted at least one year. Click here to find out more about petion forms.

You must be able to prove to the court that your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. You do this by proving one of the 5 ‘facts’ below applies:

That your husband or wife has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with him or her;

That your husband’s or wife’s behavior has been such that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her;

That your husband or wife deserted you at least 2 years ago;

That you have lived apart from your husband or wife for at least 2 years and he or she agrees to a divorce;

That you have lived apart from your husband or wife for at least 5 years.

The vast majority of divorces are not defended and are considered by a District Judge without a court hearing. If the judge agrees that proper reasons have been given divorce is granted.

You can also apply to the court for a ruling that your marriage is not valid and obtain a decree of nullity. If a couple divorces or their marriage is annulled, the courts have powers to make orders relating to their money and property.

If you are considering a divorce, it is always best to know the correct procedure. You may have to deal with child matters, as well as property settlements. Emerson Family Law can help you with this.

For more information about divorce see Divorce Aid and Divorce-online.

The Community Legal Service (CLS) has a leaflet on divorce and separation.

Find out more questions you may be asked regarding divorce

You may also like...