How to Get a Divorce

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, read this quick guide by our experienced family law solicitors for all you need to know about starting the process.  

Are you eligible for a divorce?

You can only get a divorce if you have been married for at least one year. If you both agree to a divorce and the reasons why, the process will usually take at least 4-6 months, but this may be longer if you have issues such as children, money and property to sort out. 

Before you officially apply for a divorce, you will need to show your marriage has broken down irretrievably by choosing the grounds for your divorce. If you and your partner agree to the grounds for divorce, the process can be quicker. No fault divorce will be introduced soon but is not available in England and Wales yet. 

Grounds for divorce: 

  • Adultery - One of you has had a sexual relationship with a person of the opposite sex
  • One of you has displayed unreasonable behaviour 
  • Desertion - Your partner has left you and you have lived apart for at least two years 
  • You both agree to a divorce and you have lived apart for at least two years 
  • You have lived apart for at least five years – it does not matter if one of you doesn’t agree to a divorce 

If you have been married for less than two years, you can only use adultery or unreasonable behaviour as grounds for your divorce.  

The divorce application  

To apply for a divorce, you will need your husband or wife’s full name and address. You need to know your partner’s current address as the court will need it to send them a copy of the divorce petition.  

You will also need your original marriage certificate. You need this to fill in the details of the application form, which will start the process. If you changed your name since getting married, you will need proof by way of deed poll. 
If you fill the divorce application in incorrectly, it will be sent back to you and delay the process, this can also increase the costs of the petition as it has to be amended. Using a divorce solicitor will ensure the paperwork is filled in correctly. You will need to pay a £550 fee when submitting your divorce application. 

The person who is applying for the divorce, known as the petitioner, has to pay this fee but you can ask the courts to consider making your partner pay if you think it appropriate and your divorce is based on adultery or unreasonable behaviour    


If you can’t agree on issues such as those involving the ownership of the family home, children and money, you can use a mediator to help you sort through your issues outside of court. A mediator is an independent third party who will help direct a discussion between you and your partner about your issues. 

The aim is to find suitable solutions in a calm and reasonable manner without the need to go to court. A mediator cannot offer legal advice to either side but will usually be a qualified family solicitor and therefore will be familiar with the current law.  

Getting started 

Anderson Rowntree is one of West Sussex’s leading family law firms and our experienced solicitors are here to help you at every stage of getting a divorce, from submitting the application to sorting through your financial and children issues and, if necessary, representing you in court. To speak to one of our solicitors about your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.