Navigating Divorce Proceedings and Family Court in the UK

Getting a divorce can torment both parties, but knowing what steps to take next can help you smooth the process. It is a good idea to know about the UK divorce process if your marriage is irreparably damaged to the extent of separation.

We know that filing for a divorce can get complicated. This article breaks down the complete divorce process in the UK’s legal system from the beginning to the end.

UK divorce process: Step-by-step guide

With the inclusion of no-fault divorce legislation, even though the process has become more accessible on paper, the time to expedite the process has become notoriously extensive.

Application for divorce

To file a divorce, first, you must send a divorce application to a family court if you choose to do it physically. In the case of online submission, the application is automatically assigned to the relevant court. You can also file a joint divorce application in concurrence with your estranged partner.

If you solely file for the divorce, then your spouse becomes a respondent, and you become the applicant. The application fee for filing a divorce is £593.

If you solely apply for divorce, the respondent (spouse) has a 2-week time limit to send you an “acknowledgement of service” form. Under normal circumstances, the spouse can’t contest a divorce petition. This makes getting out of an unhappy marriage relatively easier.

Reflection period

Upon acknowledging services, your divorce application automatically enters a 20-week-long reflection period, or you may call it a cooling-off period.

It gives you time to reconsider your options, and you may opt for marriage counselling. If the marriage is broken beyond repair, you can sort out modalities like post-divorce finances and childcare arrangements if you have children.

Application for a conditional order

You can apply for a conditional order once the 20-week reflection period is over. Such an order is essentially a certification where the court sees no grounds for not letting you have a divorce. For this, you need to fill out a judicial separation form, also known as from D84. Conditional and final orders have replaced the old decree nisi and decree absolute practice

The court will review all the documents you’ve attached and provide you and your spouse with a certificate of entitlement. This mentions when you will be given the conditional order. If neither of the parties provides evidence against the conditional order within the stipulated time, you may apply for a final order. It can take up to 5 weeks for the courts to approve the conditional order.

Application for the final order

Once the court grants you a conditional order, you need to wait for 6-weeks before you can apply for the final order from the court. You should aim to reach a financial agreement with your estranged spouse during this period. Even though this step is not necessary, it is recommended that you reach a financial agreement, or else it can be problematic later on.
Once the financial remedy order is approved, all your financial ties with your spouse will effectively end.

After the 6-week cooling-off period expires, you can apply for a final order. The court will examine your application; in most cases, the order is granted within 24 hours of application. Once granted, you are officially divorced and free to remarry, and the UK divorce process ends here.

With a 26-week-long waiting period in the process, the divorce process can take a lot of time. If you file for a joint divorce application with your spouse, you can reduce the overall time by 2 to 3 weeks.


Expediting the complexities of the UK divorce process can get complex, especially when you are going through a difficult divorce. In this situation, getting help from an expert family law solicitor is best. You can smoothly browse through the list of solicitors and choose a lawyer for filing for divorce in the UK by visiting

Written By –

Omar Shams

Omar Shams

CEO & Founder at

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