Making the decision to start a divorce is never going to be an easy one but do you know whether you can in fact divorce and if so how to divorce. This is our easy straightforward guide to help you answer these questions.

Firstly, you should be aware that you cannot divorce until you have been married for at least one year. If you are in this position then you are either going to have to wait until you been married for a year or alternatively consider whether there are any other legal options to bring the marriage to an end.

If you have been married for more than a year the simple question to ask yourself is has your marriage come to an end? Is there any prospect of getting back together or working through any issues? Have you thought about seeking professional help from a marriage guidance counsellor to see if there is any way of resolving any difficulties you are currently experiencing? If however, you have reached the conclusion that your marriage is at an end then that is the legal starting point for a divorce.

Divorce law requires you to set out the reason why you have reached the conclusion that your marriage is at an end. There are five reasons or facts that you rely upon to explain why your marriage has broken down. In no particular order these are: adultery, behaviour, two years desertion, two years separation and five years separation. The difference between the last two is that for two years separation both you and your husband or wife will need to agree to the divorce. Agreement is not required for five years separation.

To start the divorce you will need to have your original marriage certificate, but if you cannot find this then it is possible to obtain a duplicate marriage certificate for a small fee. You then need to fill in the divorce form or petition. Once this is done, you are then in a position to start your divorce. You will need to take your divorce petition to your local County Court, together with the marriage certificate and court fee. The court will start your divorce, giving your case a reference number. They will then arrange to send a copy of your divorce form (petition) to your husband or wife. Your husband or wife will receive an Acknowledgement Form with the divorce forms from the court. They must complete this and return it to the court. The court will then send you a copy of the Acknowledgement Form that your husband or wife has completed. On the basis that it is not contested, you then prepare further divorce forms and make an application to court for the Decree Nisi. The Decree Nisi is the penultimate stage in the divorce process. Six weeks after the Decree Nisi has been granted, you can apply for your Decree Absolute. The Decree Absolute brings your marriage to an end.  You should be aware that getting divorced does not automatically cut the financial ties between you and your ex.

On the basis that your husband or wife cooperates with the process, the divorce should not take more than 6 to 8 months and the procedure does not require you to go to any court hearings. It is all done on paper.

It may seem very complicated and daunting, but as your specialist family lawyer we can help you in completing the divorce forms, taking away the stress so that you are able to get on with your life as quickly as possible.