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Dealing with Divorce


Divorce can be a difficult time for all involved

When can I get a Divorce?

In order to get a divorce you need to have been married for more than twelve months. You will also need to show that the marriage has broken down.

To prove that the marriage has broken down you will need to show one of the following:

  • Adultery
    You do not need to know the identity of the person that your spouse has committed adultery with and you do not need to name them on the Divorce Petition. However, if your spouse denies the adultery then you may be requested to prove it. This can be very difficult and for this reason divorce petitions based on this ground do not always succeed.

  • Unreasonable Behaviour
    You will be asked to give examples in the divorce petition about your spouse's unreasonable behaviour. You must also state why this has made it difficult for you to continue living with them. You may use adultery as an example and you would not need to prove the adultery. This may be a better option than relying on adultery as the only ground.

  • 2 Years Desertion
    You will need to supply the date of when your spouse left you and show that you have not heard from your partner since that date. You cannot start divorce proceedings until your spouse has been left for two years.

  • 2 Years Separation
    In order to use this ground for divorce your spouse must agree to the divorce. You will need to put the date of the separation on the divorce petition and state briefly the reason for the separation. If you do not know the exact date of the separation you can give an approximate date as long as it can be clearly shown that two years have passed.

  • 5 Years Separation
    You do not need your spouse's consent to divorce on this ground. This ground is therefore useful if you know that you will have difficulty getting your spouse's consent. You will need to give details of the date of the separation and brief reasons why you separated.

Starting Divorce Proceedings

Step by step divorce procedure

  1. The Applicant's solicitors (or the applicant) send the Divorce Petition, with the court fee and the marriage certificate, to the court. If you have children, the Divorce Petition should be accompanied a statement about the arrangements for children.
  2. The court will register the case, process the papers and send copies of the Petition, the statement of arrangements for children and an Acknowledgment of Service form to the Respondent or the Respondent's solicitors.
  3. The Respondent or their solicitor will fill in the Acknowledgment of Service form, stating that the papers have been received and read and that the divorce is not being contested.
  4. The Acknowledgment of Service is filed by the court and a copy of the completed form is sent to the Applicant or the Applicant's solicitor.
  5. The Applicant's solicitor or the Applicant prepare an Affidavit (a sworn statement) stating on oath that the contents of the Divorce Petition are true. The Solicitor or the Applicant then file the Affidavit at court along with a form requesting that the divorce papers are considered with a view to granting the decree nisi.
  6. The District Judge considers the filed papers and decides whether a decree nisi should be granted. If the Judge decides that the decree nisi should be granted then both parties are notified by the Court of the date and time when the decree nisi will be announced in court.
  7. The court pronounces the decree nisi. It is not necessary for anyone to attend court on this date as it is simply a formality.
  8. A sealed copy of the decree nisi is sent to both parties or their solicitors.
  9. Six clear weeks after a decree nisi has been granted the Applicant or their solicitor can apply for a decree absolute. If no application is made the Respondent can apply for a decree absolute three months from the date of the decree nisi. If no application for a decree absolute has been made within one year the Applicant must explain the delay to the court who then have a discretion to grant or refuse it.
  10. The court sends the sealed decree absolute to both parties or their solicitor. The marriage has now officially ended.

Can I get my Marriage Annulled?

Under certain circumstances you may be able to have your marriage annulled. You must apply to annul the marriage within a reasonable period of time, in some cases this will be three years. There is no requirement to have been married for twelve months.

Examples of when you may seek an annulment of your marriage are:

  • The marriage has not been consummated.
  • At the time of marriage your spouse was already married to someone else.
  • One of you was under 16 years of age when you get married.
  • You have married a close relative.
  • Your spouse had a venereal disease at the time of marriage and they knew about it but you didn't.
  • Your spouse was pregnant with another person's child at the time of the marriage and they knew about it but you didn't

Where can I Find Legal Advice?

You can contact the Tameside Citizens Advice Bureau on 0161 330 2156 or visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website Link to External Website.

Image of a man with lipstick on his collarCan I get Help with Legal Fees?

The Legal Services Commission is responsible for The Community Legal Service, which funds non-criminal (civil) cases, and the Criminal Defence Service which funds advice and representation for people facing criminal charges.

These funded services are only available from solicitors or advice agencies who are contracted with the Legal Services Commission. This means they have been checked to make sure they meet certain standards and provide good service.

For civil matters, you may qualify for free legal advice and assistance if you meet certain financial eligibility criteria, and if your case is of a type covered by the legal aid scheme. If you do not meet these criteria you may be asked to pay a contribution towards your legal advice.

For more information on the legal aid scheme, and on how to apply for legal aid, visit the Legal Services Commission Link to External Website website.

Can I do the Divorce Myself?

Yes, it is possible to do your own divorce without needing to consult a solicitor. However, it should be noted that a do it yourself divorce should only be undertaken if both parties are in agreement about all matters.

The forms can be obtained from your local county court. You will also be able to obtain guidance notes for filling in the forms.

GOV.UK can give more information about range of issues dealing with divorce Link to External Website.

Is there any Financial Help I can get?

You may be able to claim some benefits now that your circumstances have changed. The rules for most benefits and tax credits are the same if you are separated or divorced as they are for other people who are single.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is paid:

  • If you are capable of working
  • If you are available for work
  • If you are actively seeking work

Further Information on Job Seeker's Allowance is available at GOV.UK Link to External Website.

Income Support

  • Income Support is an income-related benefit for people aged from 16 years up to age 60 that are on a low income.
  • Savings over £16,000 usually mean you cannot get Income Support. 
  • If you have to attend your Jobcentre Plus office regularly, you cannot get Income Support.

Further Information on Income Support is available at GOV.UK Link to External Website.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is:

  • A benefit for people bringing up children
  • Paid for each child
  • Not affected by income or savings

Further information on Child Benefit is available at the HM Revenue & Customs website Link to External Website.

Tax Credit

Information on Tax Credits can be found at the HM Revenue and Customs website Link to External Website or on the Tax Credits Information Helpline 0845 300 3900 ( The tax credits helpline is open from 8am - 8pm seven days a week).

Help with Health Costs

Help with health costs covers:

  • Free NHS prescriptions
  • Free NHS dental treatment
  • Free NHS sight tests
  • Vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses
  • Free NHS wigs and fabric supports
  • Repayment of necessary travel costs to hospital and back for NHS treatment

Further information on help with health costs is available on the NHS website Link to External Website.

The Social Fund

The Social Fund is administered by Jobcentre Plus. The Social Fund provides lump sum payments, grants and loans. Loans and Community Care Grants from the Social Fund are discretionary and not for a standard amount. Savings of £500 or more (£1,000 for those aged 60 or over) may affect how much you get. You may be able to get help from the Social Fund for important costs that are hard to pay for out of your regular income.

The Social Fund includes:

  • Community Care Grant
  • Budgeting Loan
  • Crisis Loan
  • SureStart Maternity Grant
  • Funeral Payments
  • Cold Weather Payments
  • Winter Fuel Payments

For more information about the benefits you may be entitled to, visit Link to External Website

If you pay rent or council tax and are on a low income you may be entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.

If you are now the only occupant over eighteen in your property then you may be entitled to Single Person Discount.

Image of a divorce decree and wedding ringWhat about Mediation?

Mediation offers separating and divorcing couples the opportunity to resolve matters regarding the future by negotiating with each other with the help of a trained mediator. The mediator will ensure that both parties get a fair and equal say.

The sort of things that you may discuss in mediation are:

  • Who the children will live with and access arrangements for the other parent. How you will make decisions about the children in the future.
  • How the family assets are going to be divided, the family home, pensions, maybe a business.
  • How each member of the family is going to be financially supported in both the short term and the long term.

Mediation will not help you to get back together. Couples go to mediation when they have reached the decision that the relationship has irretrievably broken down and they need help to focus on the future.

Where can I Find Information about Becoming a Lone Parent?

If you have found that because of divorce you have become a lone parent, you can find more information about childcare, benefits and contacting parents in the same situation on the Single Parent webpage.

Children and Divorce

The NCH is a charity that gives advice and help for children and parents.

Name Changes by Deed Poll

In some circumstances you may wish to consider changing your name by Deed Poll. For more information please visit UK Deen Poll Link to External Website