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06 April 2022

Divorce: Your Questions Answered

Questions about divorce? We answer some of the most common and confusing ones here.

Can either party file for divorce?
Yes. It is open to either party to file an application for divorce. Since 6 April 2022 it is also possible for a couple who are in agreement to file the application on a joint basis.

What are the grounds for filing for a divorce?
In England the sole ground for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Prior to the advent of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which came into force on 6 April 2022 it was necessary to rely on one of five facts to evidence that the marriage had broken down (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years separation with consent or 5 years separation.) Since 6 April 2022 the single basis on which a divorce may be granted is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. A statement to that effect will suffice and there is no longer any requirement to provide evidence.

Does it matter if I make the application for divorce or my spouse makes the application or we apply together?
Very rarely. It will usually make no difference if you are the applicant or your spouse applies or you make a joint application. However, if there is more than one jurisdiction where the divorce might take place then it may be a consideration.

Is it possible to defend a divorce?
It is no longer possible to defend a divorce application. The only grounds upon which a divorce or dissolution may be disputed are if a challenge is made to the validity or subsistence of the marriage/ civil partnership or if a challenge is made to the jurisdiction of the court to hear the application.

How long will it take to get a divorce?
Once an application for divorce has been made there will then be a minimum twenty week “cooling off” period before the applicant(s) can apply to the court for a conditional order of divorce. This period is designed to give the parties a period of reflection and to endeavour to resolve issues around children and money. It is anticipated that the minimum period to obtain a divorce will be 26 weeks.

Will I have to go to court?
No. There is usually no need for either party to attend court.

What happens if I change my mind?
Until a Final Order of divorce is granted by the court the marriage subsists. Up until that point it is possible to invite the court to dismiss the divorce application.