The 4 Stages of the Divorce Process in the UK

Learn how to get a divorce and the divorce process in two minutes.

Kelly Grigg, a family lawyer at Richard Nelson LLP, outlines the stages of divorce and the UK divorce process.

Richard Nelson LLP is a leading firm for 2021, part of the legal 500. Our family lawyers have been accredited by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law.


Stages of divorce in the UK

There are 4 main stages of the divorce process.

The first stage of the divorce process is the drafting and submitting of the divorce petition itself. In this document, the Petitioner will explain to the Judge why they believe the marriage has “irretrievably broken down”.

This means that at least one of the parties has come to the decision that the marriage is at an end and they are not prepared to try and fix things. In order to satisfy the ground of “irretrievable breakdown”, the Petitioner will have to prove one of 5 possible facts:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion of 2 years or more
  • Separation of 2 years with Consent
  • Separation of 5 years without the need for Consent.

At Stage 2, the Court issues the Petition and sends a copy out to all parties. The Respondent will also receive a response pack, in which there will be a form known as “the Acknowledgement of Service” form which is to be completed, signed and sent back to the Court.

If the Respondent confirms that they do not intend to defend the divorce, then the Petitioner can proceed to the next stage.

At Stage 3, the divorce petition will be passed to a Legal Advisor or District Judge to consider to decide if the fact relied upon in the Petition has been proved by the Petitioner.

If the Court is satisfied that the fact has been proven, then the Petitioner is entitled to a divorce. The Court will then give notice of the date, time and place of the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi (also known as the “Interim Order”).

The Interim stage is important as it sets out the earliest date that the Petitioner can apply for the Interim Order to be made Final, which is 6 weeks and 1 day later.

Once the minimum cooling-off period has passed, the Petitioner can apply for the interim Order to be finalised. Usually, within a week of filing such an application, you will receive the Final Order from the Court, known as your Decree Absolute.

Work with a family law specialist

Get in touch with Kelly to discuss the divorce process:Tel: 0333 888 40404


Or contact Richard Nelson LLP online.

Kelly Grigg is a family solicitor with a wealth of experience helping a wide range of clients on family law matters.

With years of experience comes the understanding that every family is different. Kelly offers assistance and representation at court on family law matters including divorce and separation; pre- and post-nuptial agreements; children matters; unmarried couples; financial matters; and domestic abuse and protection orders.

At what is a stressful and emotional time, Kelly prides herself in avoiding legal speak. She will clearly explain your options and the processes involved, so you feel in control every step of the way.

Kelly understands that family life can be hectic at the best of times and is happy to make arrangements for out of hours appointments where needed.


“I really can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me with my divorce. The process has been made easier by your understanding of my situation and the care you have provided. I breathe a sigh of relief that it’s nearly over and my future is a whole lot happier and brighter.”

A client

“Kelly is a professional, friendly and supportive Solicitor. She helped my son gain access to his daughter, advising him every step of the way. I would highly recommend Kelly.”

A client

Written by Kelly Grigg

Kelly Grigg is a family solicitor at Richard Nelson LLP, based in the South West. Kelly favours reducing conflict by reaching an out of court agreement, which is often the most favourable way to resolve divorce proceedings and other family law matters. Read more about Kelly Grigg.

One of the Nation's Leading Law Firms

Specialists in legal advice and representation for businesses, professionals and individuals

Make an enquiry