Step-by-Step Divorce Procedure in the United Kingdom

Step-by-Step Divorce Procedure in the United Kingdom

What is divorce and how may mediation help?

This handbook describes the divorce procedure, how to proceed, and the benefits of mediation. Frequently, clients underestimate the difficulties of divorce. The law can be complicated, and the legal procedure can be lengthy, expensive, and unpleasant. With the correct mindset and assistance, you and your husband may engage in a divorce process that is amicable and yields beneficial results for you and your family. Mediation may be a crucial component of the process, assuring you that any choices made are in your best interest.


This article will begin by describing the required law and procedure to divorce your retired. Next, we will discuss potential divorce-related conflicts, such as property partition and child custody arrangements. In doing so, this guide will provide mediation as a valuable technique for mitigating these complexity and achieving peaceful and constructive arrangements for your family after divorce. Trusted Mediators Sheffield


Divorce should not be viewed as something disgraceful; it is more frequent than people realise. This may have a huge influence on you, your partner, and your children when relationships fail (if you have them). This is frequently a very emotional and stressful process. Mediation can assist you and all interested parties in attempting to make the transition as peaceful, constructive, and fruitful as possible. Mediation will assist you in achieving great outcomes and alleviate your concerns about life after divorce.

You are not alone; experienced mediators are familiar with the challenges and complexities of divorce. Mediation is not for everyone, yet it may be necessary to secure a bright future.

Please note that nothing in this guide constitutes legal advice, and all material is presumed accurate as of the date of publishing.


What is the divorce law in the UK?

First, it is important to be aware of two terms that frequently generate misunderstanding throughout the divorce process:

Petitioner – The spouse who is seeking a divorce.

Respondent – The spouse who responds to a divorce petition.

There is just one reason for divorce, and that is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This must be demonstrated by demonstrating one of the following five facts. If the respondent accepts fault  for any of these factors, the divorce procedure is significantly less complicated. If the respondent contests the petition, you will be required to present evidence to the court.


Requires proof of adultery that has rendered the petitioner’s cohabitation with the respondent untenable. When the responder confesses adultery, there is no necessity for evidence. You are not required to offer a reason or explanation. However, this information cannot be relied upon if you and your spouse lived together for six months immediately following the adulterous conduct. If the respondent disputes the adultery, you must provide evidence that it occurred.

Unreasonable conduct

To depend on unreasonable behaviour, you must demonstrate that the respondent’s actions have rendered the marriage irrational. You can rely on a series of occurrences that cumulatively represent unreasonable behaviour in lieu of a single incident of unreasonable behaviour. This includes insults, physical abuse, humiliation, etc.


Desertion demands proof that your spouse deserted you for at least two years continuously preceding the filing for divorce. Desertion is defined as your spouse abandoning you and being unreachable for at least two years.

Two-year separation (with respondent’s approval).

This means that you and your spouse have been living separately and apart for at least two years. You cannot reside in the same residence. In addition, the responder must agree to the divorce in order to rely on this fact. This reality necessitates no blame and is a common route many couples use to divorce when their relationships are very amiable.

Distancing during five years

At least five years of uninterrupted separation does not require the approval of the respondent. If you and your husband have lived apart for at least five years, this fact may be relied upon.

So, what is the divorce procedure in the UK in 2020?

There are four essential phases in the divorce procedure, which are explained here. Do not be intimidated by legal terminology and remember that you can receive assistance from Mediation Services or Support Through Court, for example, during your mediation session.

First, circulate the petition

Initially, you must submit a divorce petition using Form D8. The petitioner is responsible for this £550 court charge, however you may be eligible for assistance if you are on a low income or receiving certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support (non-exhaustive). You may not be required to pay the entire court charge or receive a reduction.

The D8 form demands an explanation and proof of why the marriage has irretrievably broken down, as well as an illustration of child and financial arrangements (mediation can help you with this). The court will transmit this petition to the respondent after it has been filed.

Step 2: Your spouse’s answer

After your spouse has been served with the D8 form, you must wait for their response: an acknowledgment of service. This asks the responder to confirm receipt of the divorce papers, declare if they are satisfied with the logic and phrasing on the D8 form, and indicate whether they consent to the divorce or intend to defend against it.

The respondent must recognise and submit the petition to the court. Unless they do so, the court will not pursue the respondent. You must direct a court bailiff or process server to physically deliver the petition to the respondent. This is necessary if the respondent disregards the petition, as more fees will be spent by going this route.

Step 3: Decree nisi

After the respondent has recognised the petition, you must ask the court for a decree nisi and offer a comprehensive declaration in support of the divorce. The decree nisi is effectively a “halfway point” where the court determines that there are no lingering reasons why the divorce should not be granted. It will be necessary to establish one of the five facts.

When the respondent confesses or consents to the reality, the situation will be less difficult. Nonetheless, if they defend it, you will be required to provide proof for the fact relied upon. A court will evaluate your petition and factual declaration. If the court accepts the facts and evidence presented in support of the petition, a decree nisi will be issu

Step 4: Absolute decree

After the nisi decree is rendered, you must then file for an absolute decree. This has a six-week and one-day time restriction. You and your husband will be divorced when you have filed for the decree absolute and the court has approved it.

If you fail to file for the decree absolute within the aforementioned time frame, the responder may petition for a decree absolute after 4.5 months for a charge. In addition, this path requires a court hearing and cannot be concluded until all remaining problems (including ancillary disputes) have been resolved.

If you are receiving certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support (non-exhaustive), you may not be required to pay the entire court charge or receive a reduction.

What is modern family mediation?

Mediation is a method of alternative conflict resolution that can aid you and your spouse in resolving any divorce-related concerns. A skilled mediator will arrange a conversation in which you and the other party may express your desires for the future and your perceptions of what is fair. Mediation will assist you both in expressing your desires and emotions in a constructive manner, with the aim of creating positive post-divorce results for you and your family.

Your mediator will serve as a “referee” throughout all sessions, identifying problems and assisting you in resolving them. Your mediator would never pick sides and will remain impartial at all times. While they cannot provide legal advice, they may provide you with legal information. People frequently seek legal counsel before going to mediation; you can discuss this with your mediator.

Mediation is a legally protected process, which means that what is said in the mediation room remains in the mediation room. In a judicial proceeding, it is improper to allude to arguments and debates that have already occurred. The mediator will explain the legal procedure involved in divorce. Family Mediation Norfolk

How then may family mediation benefit me?

Throughout the divorce process, you and your husband will need to negotiate the distribution of your assets and finances, as well as child custody agreements. As previously stated, you must include this information on your D8 form; the court will not grant a divorce if this has not been agreed upon.

In this regard, you may require legal counsel, although mediation can help you reach agreements. The split of cash and assets (including the family home) is frequently the most contentious aspect of a divorce and can result in a drawn-out, expensive, and painful procedure.

The standard starting point for the partition of assets is a 50:50 split, however this is frequently modified based on contributions. This book cannot give legal guidance; nevertheless, mediation can help you and your spouse reach an agreement about the division of finances and property. If you are unable to achieve agreements on your own or via mediation, you should seek legal counsel.

If you decide to employ mediation, we will assist you in negotiating crucial terms, such as:


  • A parenting strategy to support co-parenting effectiveness. This may include living arrangements (how frequently and where), decision-making procedures, and monetary contributions.
  • Asset distribution: who gets what and how much? What are the most equitable options? How can we find common ground?
  • Providing future maintenance for your spouse: In certain situations, one spouse may be employed while the other is unemployed. In such circumstances, you will need to choose how you will financially assist your husband in the future. We can help you determine your payment amount and duration.

However, these essential arrangements are not the only issues that might be debated. You may bring up any post-divorce concerns you may have, and we will do all possible to encourage favourable results. This may cover issues like as who will transport the children to and from school, their religion, and who will care for the household pets.

Mediation is an effective method for obtaining agreements that you and your ex-partner may both accept. A skilled mediator will give you with an official document (A Memorandum of Understanding for financial concerns or A Child Arrangements Plan) that outlines all agreements reached during the mediation session. This contract is not legally binding, but it gives you and your spouse with knowledge and comprehension of the agreement.

If the Memorandum of Understanding contains financial or property-related arrangements, you should see a lawyer and request that they be formalised in a Consent Order. By doing so, these agreements become a legally binding document that may be enforced in court if your ex-partner fails to comply with an agreement. Once the divorce procedure has begun, you can ask for a consent order; however, it must be confirmed by a court, which will cost £50, and you will pay attorney expenses. However, Legal Aid may be available to you.

Both you and your spouse must be willing to participate in the mediation process for it to be effective. Unfortunately, mediation will be ineffective if the parties lack the willingness to seek healthy post-divorce results. Obviously, disputes and disagreements may develop throughout the mediation process; we do not anticipate that there will be none! Remember that we will always help you decrease the dispute and collaborate.

Why is family mediation a superior option for my family and me?

If you have not already concluded that mediation is the best option for you and your family, the following arguments will demonstrate why it is preferable to engage in a contentious and combative court proceeding.

Your offspring

Obviously, if you have children, you want to prioritise them. Divorce is a stressful and unpleasant experience for all parties involved, especially your children. Once their parents split, they will likely be confused and experience a great deal of uncertainty about how their lives will change.

Perhaps the situation develops so contentious that your children are exposed to a legal process that they find intimidating and challenging. Mediation is able to prevent this from occurring. By cooperating and putting your children first, a qualified mediator will assist you in reaching agreements prior to court intervention. By doing so, you will always be able to consider the influence of your actions on your children. This not only reassures you that your children will be well, but also lessens any distress they may experience during the divorce process.


The courts are overburdened with cases, and it might take awhile to have your case heard and achieve a verdict. The most time-consuming component of the divorce procedure that may be avoided is reaching an agreement on the arrangements covered in this article. Mediation may expedite the divorce process by assisting you and your ex-spouse to achieve an amicable arrangement in a far more expedient manner than via the judicial system.


Yes, there are charges connected with mediation, but be assured that this is, in the vast majority of circumstances, a far less expensive option than going to court. Rarely is it advisable to go through the court system unrepresented and without legal counsel, as the fees of attorneys are significantly more than those of mediators. In addition, the longer you spend in court, the higher your court and attorney/barrister costs will be. If you and your ex-partner can reach a settlement through mediation, you will likely save a substantial amount of money.

You assume command

You and your ex-partner are in charge of the mediation process, which is a significant distinction from attorneys and the judicial system. Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action and will likely engage in protracted disputes with the opponent. In mediation, you will both engage in this discussion and aid one another in making decisions that are reasonable and fair for you and your family. Again, you may prioritise your children and concentrate on your futures.

Being personally involved in talks affecting you and your family gives you confidence that future choices will be in the best interests of all parties. In the mediation process, all possibilities and routes may be examined so that you can be certain that the decisions made are appropriate for you. The courts make decisions for you; mediation allows you and your spouse to make decisions. You must accept judicial judgements regardless of your opinion of them.

A less frightening atmosphere

If you have ever been in a courtroom, you are aware that it is not the most pleasant place and can be rather terrifying. The combative environment of the courtroom can be extremely off-putting and can lead to a much more contentious environment. Quite the contrary is true in the mediation setting. Everyone is placed on the same footing; no judge is elevated above the rest. You will be able to develop a rapport with your mediator, and the two of you will choose what is best for the future.


Mediation is a far more adaptable approach that may accommodate you and your lifestyle. Court dates are established, and it might be challenging to alter them. You may need to miss work and/or make arrangements for child care. Mediation is a service that can occur at any time and in any location.

Your privacy is always protected and confidentiality is of the utmost importance.

Please be assured that mediation is a confidential procedure and that your privacy will always be maintained. This gives you the confidence and assurance that you can talk anything.