Seven Steps to Divorce (Freedom)

If you are contemplating getting divorced, you may feel apprehensive or even worried about how it all works. As an insight into the steps to get you there, I have outlined the 7-steps (to freedom!) below, to hopefully answer some of your questions and ease the way for you a little.

1. Get support and advice

If you and your partner have reached the joint decision to separate or you alone are considering separation, it is important to first seek support and advice. This support could be from close family and friends or a trained therapist specialising in family separation. Advice from a family lawyer specialising in separation and divorce is always a good place to start.

2. Check that you can get divorced in England and Wales

It is important to note that there are certain criteria that need to be met before you can start the divorce process:

  • You must have been married for over a year
  • Your relationship must have permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognised in the England and Wales
  • You or your husband/wife permanently live in England or Wales
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3. Applying for divorce

When you apply for a divorce you will need to provide the court with evidence that your marriage has entirely broken down. You will need to decide on which fact you wish to rely on. There are five facts, however, the majority of divorces use either unreasonable behaviour or adultery, as these are currently the only two facts that allow divorce proceedings to commence immediately. The “No Fault Divorce” Bill is still being considered by parliament, which will allow married couples to divorce without the need to provide a fact, however, for the time being we are stuck with the current law.

Unreasonable behaviour

Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them. This could include:

a) Emotional abuse, threats, or bullying

b) Physical abuse

c) Alcohol or drugs

d) Living separate lives


Your husband or wife had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex (committed adultery).

You cannot give adultery as a reason if you lived together as a couple for more than 6 months after you found out about it.

You can apply online for a divorce or you can enlist the help of a family lawyer who will not only help you complete all the necessary forms but will be able to inform and guide you through the whole process.

4. Start to consider the long-time arrangements for the children: Living arrangements and finances

Making arrangements for your children, considering your living arrangements and starting to think about how you will divide the family assets, will all be simultaneously occurring during stages 1 – 3 above. It is essential that you do not make any binding decisions without first seeking independent legal advice.

5. Start the ball rolling by applying for the decree NISI

Applying for the Decree Nisi formally starts the divorce process. The Decree Nisi is a document that will signify the first stage of the divorce. You will have to wait a minimum of 6 weeks and 1 day before you apply for the Decree Absolute, which is the second and final stage of your divorce and which document legally ends your marriage.

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6. Agree and finalise child aggangements, and division of family assets

Once the Decree Nisi has been applied for, serious consideration and negotiations will be in full flow deciding on the future arrangements for the children and how the family assets will be divided. These discussions can take place with the help of a skilled mediator or family lawyer. Ideally a resolution will be agreed on without the need to engage in court proceedings. (I will address financial and children proceedings in separate articles). If the separating couple is able to agree matters, a document called a consent order can be drafted by a family lawyer, which is signed by both the husband and wife and sent to the court to be approved.

7. Home run apply for the decree absolute

Once all the arrangements and agreements have been approved by the court and the requisite 6 weeks and 1 day has lapsed, the Decree Absolute can be applied for. This document usually arrives within a couple of weeks, which gives you the legal freedom to remarry (if this is your wish).

If you need any advice or guidance on a relationship breakdown, I am here to help. You can find out more about my divorce solicitor services here

I offer a 20 minute FREE initial consultation, either online or by telephone.. To talk to me call 0330  094 5380 or email me on

My divorce and separation service covers Essex, Hertfordshire, London and the South-East, however I have a large network of legal professionals that I work with across the UK. 

This content is provided free of charge for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice or gives rise to a solicitor/client relationship and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances.

Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to the accuracy of the content of the article and we do not accept any liability for error or omission or for any consequences of relying on it.

I am a qualified family solicitor specialising in all family legal matters. I am also the founder of, primarily a family legal resource website dedicated to providing up to date information on all topics related to family law, health & well-being.

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