The Divorce Process

After the first year of marriage either party may start divorce proceedings in England and Wales.  This is a paperwork process and there should be no need for you or your spouse to appear at court to explain why your marriage has broken down.

The procedure is started by completing and sending to the court a pre-printed court form known as the Divorce Petition and your marriage certificate. It is within the Divorce Petition that you set out how the marriage has irretrievably broken down by evidencing one of five “facts”.  These five facts are defined by statute as follows:

  1. That your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them.  It is important to have your spouse’s admission of the adultery to rely on this fact. There is no need to name the third party; in fact this is discouraged by the courts.
  2. That your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with your spouse.  This is a subjective test and the behaviour relied on does not have to be exceptional or unusual.
  3. Desertion by your spouse for a continuous period of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Divorce Petition. This is a rarely used as a ground for divorce and only available in exceptional circumstances.
  4. A period of two years separation preceding the presentation of the Divorce Petition along with your spouse’s consent to the divorce.  If your spouse does not consent, you cannot rely on this “fact” even if you have been separated for two years.
  5. A period of five years separation preceding the presentation of the Divorce Petition.  You do not need your spouse’s consent to the divorce.

The courts deal with financial claims and divorce petitions separately.  However, it is not unusual to delay finalising the divorce until financial claims have been agreed and finalised by the court.

We are specialist family law solicitors with outstanding knowledge and experience. We are able to advise and assist you through this process in a constructive and effective manner.

Get in touch to arrange a legal consultation with one of our lawyers direct.

I cannot thank Sarah and her team enough for the understanding and compassion through a very traumatic time in my life. They were always on hand to help me put things back into perspective.

Angela Dickinson

Sarah, quite simply, thank you for helping me to make everything happen.

Ms Habbick of Cambridge

Karen Anker at Barr Ellison was superb - knowledgeable, supportive and able to provide strong leadership when needed. I highly recommend her.

Emma Windred

Thank you for all your work Karen. I would have no hesitation in recommending your practice to other potential clients.

Mr Barker of Alton

I have been very happy with the service that you have provided to me in terms of advising and helping me to navigate through the unpleasant process of divorce. I have found your service to be helpful, friendly, straightforward, honest and non-provocative to my ex; I believe this has helped us to reach agreement and settlement as amicably as possible. I believe that you have charged fairly and openly for your time. I would very gladly recommend your services to anybody finding themselves in need.

Dr A

Thank you so much for your help. You were very efficient and easy to talk with. The service provided was excellent and very professional and understanding. Most important was your patience.


I am so pleased to have finally reached a marital financial resolution which is entirely due to the patience and efficiency of Silvia. She is so easy to work with and from our first meeting she listened to all my concerns, came up with a plan and gave me support and advice when I felt I was treading water. Her positive attitude is exactly what I needed and huge thanks to her for acting so quickly with all lines of communication along the way. Now we are at the end, I cannot thank her and Barr Ellison enough, and would recommend them to anyone!

Mrs C

I found it a very good experience working with you, Karen, and I appreciated your manner in handling the issues that, frankly, I didn’t really want to deal with. You made it all very easy.

Mr Guyer of Cambridge

Thank you for all your help, Karen. I have been very conscious of you diligently pushing me forward in a world of corporate and childcare chaos my end (and I am deeply grateful). Thank you also for words of reason when my patience ran thin with my husband and his own solicitor.

Ms Denton of Braintree

Divorce & Family Team

Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin Family Law Partner

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Karen Anker

Karen Anker Divorce & Family Law Solicitor

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