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When Can I Get A Divorce?

To get a divorce, you need to have been married for more than twelve months and must be able to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably as a result of one of the following reasons:


It is not required that you know the identity of the person that your spouse has committed adultery with and you do not need to name them on the divorce petition, although you may be requested to prove it in the event that your spouse denies adultery. This can be very difficult, and, for this reason, divorce petitions based on this ground are sometimes unsuccessful.

Unreasonable Behaviour

When filing a divorce petition, you will be asked to outline details about your spouse's unreasonable behaviour and state why this has made it difficult for you to continue living with them.

You may use adultery as an example of unreasonable behaviour and you would not need to prove the adultery - this may be a better option than relying on adultery as the only ground.

2 Years Desertion

To claim desertion, you will need to provide the date of when your spouse left you and show that you have not heard from them since that date. You cannot start divorce proceedings until after two years in which your spouse has left.

2 Years Separation

To use separation as a ground for divorce, your spouse must agree to the divorce. You will need to state the date of the separation on the divorce petition and the reason for the separation. If you do not know the exact date of the separation, you can provide an approximate date as long as it can be clearly shown that two years have passed.

5 Years Separation

You do not need your spouse's consent to divorce on the grounds of a five year separation, which is useful if you know that you will have difficulty getting your spouse's consent. As above, you’ll need to give details of the date of the separation and brief reasons for why you separated.

Can I get my marriage annulled?

Under certain circumstances you may be able to have your marriage annulled. You must apply to annul the marriage within a reasonable period, which in some cases will be three years. There is no requirement to have been married for twelve months.

Reasons for seeking an annulment of your marriage are:

  • The marriage has not been consummated
  • At the time of marriage, your spouse was already married to someone else
  • One of you was under the age of 16 when you got married
  • You have married a close relative
  • Your spouse had a venereal disease at the time of marriage and did not disclose this to you
  • Your spouse was pregnant with another person's child at the time of the marriage and did not disclose this to you

How we can help

At Parfitt Cresswell, we understand that divorce can be a difficult time for all involved. Our experienced family law team are here to support and advise you throughout the divorce process, as well as offering you information about alternative resolution options. We can also help you with the protection and distribution of jointly owned assets, both property and financial, and with any issues relating to your children.

For information of users: This material is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.