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Do I have to wait 2 years before I can get divorced?

scissors cutting a marriage certificateIf you’re looking to get a divorce on the grounds of separation, then you and your spouse will need to have been separated for at least two years (provided you both agree to the divorce) before you can start the process. If you disagree, then you will need to have been separated for at least 5 years.

To issue a divorce petition immediately, it must be based on complaints of behaviour or adultery. We do not yet have the “no-fault” divorce system that the UK government has alleged it is committed to introducing, though the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is passing through parliament – you can keep up to date with this on the parliament website.

How long must a married couple be separated before applying for divorce?

The current options to divorce on the grounds of separation are as outlined below:

  • 2 years separation if both partners agree
  • 2 years desertion
  • 5 years separation if both partners disagree

2 years separation with agreed consent

It’s important to remember that if both parties do not consent to this divorce petition, then it will not be in a position to proceed.

It’s worthwhile having your solicitor writing to the respondent of the divorce petition to obtain their written consent at the very beginning before the petition is issued.

The main reason this is a good idea is due to the costs involved. There is a court issue fee of £550, and if you lodge your petition only to find that the Respondent fails or refuses to co-operate, then the court fee would be a wasted spend along with the costs of preparing the petition.  On top of this, you wouldn’t be able to progress any further with the divorce proceedings either.

This would then result in the petition needing to be withdrawn and you having to start a new divorce petition that’s based on a different ground.

2 years desertion

A 2 years desertion petition is very rare, mainly due to the fact that it can be difficult to prove desertion. In most cases, couples tend to just opt for the two-year separation with consent petition instead.

Furthermore, if one spouse has deserted the other then the chances are there is no known traceable address, which can make it difficult to begin the process and serve them with the relevant papers.

5 years separation without agreed consent

These petitions are usually very straight forward, but the downside is the lengthy wait it takes to begin proceedings. No consent is required, which simplifies the actual process, but in any event, they are still quite rare as most couples seek to dissolve their marriage at a much earlier time, even if they disagreed with the divorce at the beginning.

It’s important to note that even though the Respondent does not need to give consent to the petition, you do still need to show that they have received the relevant paperwork.

This can sometimes cause a problem if the address of the Respondent is not known, as locating them may prove difficult.

Are you looking for expert help and advice related to a divorce or separation? If so, don’t hesitate to contact our team of qualified solicitors here at Fonseca Law. We cover a wide range of legal services and have the experience and expertise to help you with your legal matter. Call today on 01495 303124, e-mail or fill in our online contact form.