We understand what a difficult and distressing time the breakdown of a relationship can be.

We are here to support you through the process and achieve the best possible outcome for you, whether that be protecting your assets or making sure that you receive a fair share.

When relationships break down, disputes and arguments arise and sometimes there is no option but to involved a professional third party, whether that be a mediator or a family law solicitor. Sometimes it is possible to resolve issues without court proceedings, but when that isn’t possible, we are here to advise and guide you through the whole court process.

Whether you are contemplating divorce/separation, have issues with regards to the arrangements for children or financial issues, we are here to help guide you through the process in a friendly, professional and understanding way.

Our fees are competitive and we offer an initial 1 hour fixed-fee consultation for £150 plus VAT.

Did you know….?

  • 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce ( Divorce Statistics UK)

Divorce – What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be demonstrated by establishing one of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for at least 2 years
  • Separated for more than 2 years (with the agreement of both parties)
  • Separated for at least 5 years

Did you know….?

  • The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years (Divorce Statistics UK)

Divorce – The Divorce Process

The Petition

Either party can file for divorce but you must have been married for at least one year. The person who makes the application is known as the “petitioner” and the other party is known as the “respondent”. The process starts with paying a court fee and lodging a divorce application form (the “petition”) together with the original marriage certificate and the reason you are seeking a divorce.

The Response

The second stage of divorce proceedings involves the court sending a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse together with an acknowledgement of service form which they must complete and return within 7 days.

A copy of the completed document will be sent to you by the court. The acknowledgment of service form confirms to the court that :

  • The divorce papers have been received
  • Whether the respondent agrees to the divorce of if it is to be defended

If the acknowledgement of service is not returned within 7 days, the petitioner will need to provide evidence to the court that the respondent received the documentation. A process-server may need to be instructed to serve the papers on the respondent personally. A court bailiff can also be instructed to re-serve your divorce petition on your spouse. Once this has been done, the respondent no longer needs to complete and return the acknowledgement of service.

If the respondent wants to defend the divorce, they have 21 days to send and answer to the court explaining why they are defending the divorce. If the respondent wants to defend the divorce, your case will be heard before the court who will have to decide whether or not to grant the divorce.

Decree Nisi

Once the acknowledgement of service has been returned to the court and a copy sent to the petitioner, or if the petitioner can prove that the respondent has received the documents, the petitioner can then apply for a decree nisi. A decree nisi is a provisional divorce which means that the court are satisfied that the petitioner has met the legal and procedural requirements to obtain a divorce.

Decree Absolute

The final step in the divorce is to apply for the decree absolute which is the legal document that brings the marriage to an end and confirms that you are formally divorced. You have to wait at least 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) after the date of the decree nisi before you can apply for a decree absolute.

In practical terms, the length of time it takes to obtain a decree absolute can vary depending on the complexity of the case.

Did you know….?

  • 60% of all divorces involve individuals aged 25 to 39 years old – Divorce Statistics UK

Divorce – How long does it take to get a divorce?

If both parties agree to the divorce and the reasons for the divorce, getting a divorce legally finalised could take as little as 4 to 6 months. The process is relatively straightforward and is just a case of completing the relevant paperwork. To try to speed the process along you can do the following:

  • Try to get an agreement from your spouse as to the reasons for the divorce
  • Be prompt with your paperwork
  • Be careful not to make any mistakes on the paperwork
  • Agree finances and arrangements for children with your spouse

Did you know….?

  • 62% of divorces were on the petition of the wife – Office for National Statistics


When a marriage breaks down, not all couples feel ready to divorce or there may be religious reasons why they do not wish to divorce. Separation is an alternative to divorce.

It is not essential for you to take any legal steps in the event of a separation but where there are children involved or more complex finances, it can be advisable to enter into a more formal separation agreement which can be done in one of two ways:

  • Deed of Separation – this is a legal document that records the arrangements you have agreed with your spouse
  • Judicial Separation – similar to a divorce in that you are no longer legally seen as a couple but you remain legally married

How can Wheldon Law help?

Whether you are considering a divorce or separation, we can provide you with friendly and professional advice every step of the way. We always advise clients to try mediation first to try to reach an agreement regarding finances and/or childcare. For further information on mediation, please see our mediation page.

If you are unable to come to an agreement and your case needs to go to court, we understand that the court process can be a daunting one. Our experienced family solicitors can guide you through the whole process so you know what to expect every step of the way.

Please call us on 01442 242999 or email us at enquiry@wheldonlaw.co.uk to arrange an initial 1 hour conference for a fixed-fee of £225 plus VAT.