Divorce and settling the finances
Our divorce solicitors offer expert divorce, mediation and separation advice.
The Family Team at Mayo Wynne Baxter knows that divorce and separation advice has to be clear, sympathetic and specific to your circumstances.
Our experienced and approachable divorce solicitors have unprecedented knowledge on divorce and separation rights. Your individual circumstances are important to us and the first thing we will do is listen.
How do I get a divorce? Explore our step by step guide
Here we break down the process of getting a divorce into seven steps. Steps one to four explain how to start divorce proceedings. The latter three steps explain the process of completing the divorce.
New legislation, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, was introduced on the 6 April 2022, which has completely overhauled the law and now means that one party can start or a couple can jointly start, proceedings without the need to apportion blame or offering a reason for the divorce.
Divorce terminology is also changing too, bringing the process into the 21st century. Making each element of divorce as clear as possible will reduce confusion and help people to understand the process they’re embarking on a little easier.
One person or a couple jointly starts the divorce application
This can be done online or via a paper application.
There is now no requirement to give a reason for divorce or blame your partner – it is now largely on the basis of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The court sends your partner a copy of the application and the new and important 20 week reflection period starts
The new law stipulates a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the granting of the conditional order, the old decree nisi, and then another six weeks between this and the final order. While there was some concern that the new legislation would mean ‘quicker/easier’ divorces, this period will mean the shortest divorces will still take at last six months to complete, rather than 3-4 months under the previous law.
You apply for a conditional order and decide whether you want to make a financial claim
Within the divorce application, there is a question asking if you want to make a financial claim, i.e. if you want to finalise your financial matters in court after your divorce. Although completing a financial disclosure form is not compulsory for every divorce, it is a useful tool to give both parties a clear understanding of each other’s financial position, as people don’t always know exactly what there is ‘money-wise’ to agree a fair financial split.
Before you even start considering how you’re going to divide things up, it’s important that you are both open and honest with the information you provide about your finances.
A financial disclosure is not part of the divorce application document, but it does tend to be done in parallel to completing the application. You can read more information about financial settlements on the family law section of our website.
The court reviews your application
Once you’ve filled in your application, you’ll need to send it to the court, along with either your original marriage certificate or an official copy (which you can obtain from the local registrar for around £12). You can find the address of your nearest divorce centre on the gov.uk website. You can also apply for a divorce on-line rather than send in a paper application.
As the applicant(s) you will also need to pay a fee to apply for a divorce (this is currently £550) – the application won't be issued without a payment being made. Payment can be made via debit or credit card, or by cheque.
Although it is the responsibility of the applicant(s) to pay the fee, people often agree with their ex-partner to share the costs (if they are aware the application is being filed at this stage). If you are on a low income you may be able to get help with the fees, but you will need to make a separate application for this and produce details of your circumstances.
The court grants the conditional order (and the six week cooling off starts).
Once you’ve sent your divorce application to the court, your ex-partner will be sent a copy too. As the ‘responder’ they must acknowledge that they have received a copy of the divorce application by signing and returning an acknowledgement of service form to the court. They must do this within seven days of receiving the papers. The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act has removed the option for an ex partner to contest a divorce.
We recommend that you speak to your ex-partner in advance so they’re aware of the reasons you have filed the application and so they can keep an eye out for the papers. This can help prevent a delay with returning the form, which in turn can lead to severe delays with the divorce process and sometimes incur additional costs.
You apply for the final order
The final step in obtaining a divorce takes place six weeks and a day after your final order is pronounced. If you’re the applicant then you will be the one to apply for the final order (the legal document that officially dissolves your marriage) after the ‘six weeks and a day’ period.
The court grants the final order
It’s important to know that you must file for your final order within a year after your conditional order is granted, otherwise you’ll have to go through more court proceedings, causing further delays.
Going through a divorce or separation can be one of the most stressful periods in your life and if you're unsure of what the divorce process is, or how it works in practice, then the whole thing can feel a little bit overwhelming.
Contact our Family team here at Mayo Wynne Baxter if you have any questions.