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How to Get a Divorce – The 10 Step Process

1. Before doing anything, be 100% certain that divorce is the only solution

A relationship break-down is a stressful time for all concerned and as emotions run high, the decision to file for divorce may seem the only solution at the current time, however, there are other options available that could give you both time apart, giving you space to help you evaluate your marriage more effectively and decide if it has indeed reached a point of no return, or whether there is still some hope for a reconciliation. If you are 100% certain that a divorce is the right decision, then there is a legal process to follow. For some couples, dependent upon the clarity of the assets owned and finances, this process can take four to six months, but for others it may take many months or even years to conclude the process and obtain a Decree Absolute.

2. Seek legal advice

At Watson Thomas Solicitors, we offer a free callback which gives you the opportunity to find out your legal position and entitlements, the options available and the legal costs that will be incurred. We offer fixed and capped fee services with a ‘no hidden cost’ promise so you will never pay any more than the agreed capped fee. In order to file for Divorce, you will need to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in your marriage, as evidenced by one of the five grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Two Year’s separation
  • Five Year’s separation
  • Desertion

3. Complete required documentation

If you can provide the evidence to divorce under one of the five grounds listed above, you will need to complete a divorce petition Form D8. Download guidance notes as well - D8 Form Notes. You will also need to attach your original marriage certificate, if you have it in your possession, or a copy (available from a register office) to the Court.

The court fee to start a divorce is £550.00. This will be payable in addition to the fees quoted by your Solicitor if they manage the Divorce Process on your behalf.

4. Send Divorce Petition to the court

You must file your Divorce Petition at your allocated Divorce Centre. There are a number of regional divorce centres. You can find your allocated centre here at https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/search/.

5. Give notice of the Divorce Petition to your spouse

The Court will send the divorce petition to your spouse, as long as you provided the correct address on the divorce petition. If you think your spouse may contest the divorce petition, you should send a draft petition in the first instance which will outline the contents of the petition, perhaps alleviating any unpleasantness at a later stage.

6. Deal with your spouse’s response to the Divorce Petition

Upon receipt of the divorce petition, you must wait 8 days for your spouse to acknowledge receipt. If you don’t get a response within 21 days, if the Petition is based on Unreasonable Behaviour and you can prove that your spouse has received the Petition, you can continue with the divorce as if your husband or wife has agreed.

If you do receive Acknowledgement and your spouse states that they intend to defend the divorce petition, then they still have to respond within 8 days, and they will have up to 21 days to say they are defending the divorce – this is called their Answer to the Petition.

If your spouse doesn’t wish to contest the divorce you can immediately ask the court for directions for Decree Nisi.

7. Apply for Decree Nisi

To apply for Decree Nisi which is a document that says the court doesn’t see any reason why you can’t divorce. You will need to complete the Application for a Decree Nisi (Form D84) as well as one of the 5 Statement Forms (D80A-E) which covers the grounds you have given for Divorce. Once the relevant forms are completed, they can be sent to the court stating that your divorce is undefended. You must be able to show the Court a completed Acknowledgment of Service from your spouse, or have evidence that they have received the Divorce Petition in a case of Unreasonable Behaviour.

8. Get Decree Nisi granted

Your complete file is examined by the Judge who will look at all evidence and documentation to ensure the forms are satisfactorily completed, you have declared the right grounds for divorce and the proposed arrangements for the children are in the children’s best interests. If approved, your Pronouncement of Decree Nisi will take about 2 months from the date you first filed your Application for Decree Nisi.

9. Request Decree Absolute

You are not legally divorced until your Decree Absolute is issued. You can apply for your Decree Absolute 6 weeks and 1 day after your Decree Nisi is granted and must apply within 12 months of getting the decree nisi. You will need to complete Form D36-- Notice of Application for Decree Nisi to be made Decree Absolute, and send to the court. You will be sent a Decree Absolute which officially ends your marriage and you are free to legally marry again.

10. Change Your Will

Once you have obtained the Decree Absolute, any provision you have made within your Will to your spouse will become invalidated. You will need to make a new Will.


You have done the hard bit, now it is time to move on with renewed confidence and peace of mind that as one chapter in your life closes, another will open. Whatever path you choose to follow will present new opportunities and challenges that will lead to a happier life.  Watson Thomas Solicitors are experts in family law who offer a compassionate and professional service that will help you to take positive steps to a happier life. For a free callback, please submit your details and we'll arrange a free, no obligation callback at a time to suit you.