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Do I have to wait 2 years for a divorce?

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You do not have to wait two years to divorce if you can show the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down due to adultery or unreasonable behaviour, in which case you can divorce after one year. Stephanie Preston, Family Law Paralegal in our Southampton office, explains your position further if you find yourself in this situation, and advises what your next steps are.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There are several reasons why you can divorce, but only two that you can use if you wish to divorce sooner than two years; adultery and unreasonable behaviour. These reasons allow you to apply for a divorce after you have been married for one year.

Both adultery and unreasonable behaviour are fault based, which requires one person to blame the other party for the breakdown of the marriage. This can cause complications if you either do not wish to accept the blame or put the blame on the other party. This would mean neither you or your spouse are at fault so you would have to wait two years, which may not be practical for your situation.

No-fault divorce

There has been much in the press recently regarding the agreed proposals to introduce a no-fault divorce system, which will mean that couples will not need to blame the other party in order to divorce prior to two years. “These proposals have been in discussion for several years now, but have been given importance following a recent high profile Court case,” explains Stephanie. “In the case of Tina Owens, the Court ruled that she was not allowed to divorce her husband simply because she was unhappy in the relationship. This prompted arguments from different organisations and professionals calling for a change to the system.”

Divorce after two years

While the proposals have been approved, there is currently no date for their implementation, meaning couples are still required to wait for two years to divorce, unless they can cite the reasons mentioned above. If you decide to wait for two years to divorce, you can do so as long as your spouse also consents. If they do not consent, you would be required to wait for five years after your separation to divorce.

You will not be able to finalise any agreement in respect of your finances into a binding Court order until you divorce. If you do wish to divide your assets prior to divorcing, it might be more suitable to enter into a separation agreement in the interim to ensure that there is a document which sets out what is going to happen upon separation with regard to splitting assets and property. A separation agreement can also provide for arrangements in respect of any children. Upon divorcing after two years, this agreement can be transferred into a consent order to submit to the Court.

What is the divorce process?

“We would always recommend that the first step after making the difficult decision to divorce would be to seek legal advice,” concludes Stephanie. “While you can carry out your divorce independently without a Solicitor, having an initial meeting will help you to understand your rights and whether we foresee any complications arising with regard to your finances, property or children. We offer several different packages for our clients looking to divorce, and can offer you as much assistance and advice as you wish, all with compassion and understanding during this change in your life.”

To discuss your divorce or our fixed fee divorce packages with Stephanie or a member of the Family team, contact us today on 023 8071 7431 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.