Two years separation – grounds for divorce and how to apply…

How to use two years separation as the grounds for divorce

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Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM

Two years separation with consent in England and Wales can be used as the grounds for divorce (for marriages) or dissolution (for civil partnerships), provided you have the consent of your partner. This means, if you and your ex have been separated for at least two years, and agree, you can use two years separation as one of the five ‘facts’ to file for .

Unfortunately, ‘no-fault divorce’ is not yet an option in English and Welsh law (it has now been agreed and the law will likely change in late 2021) but two years separation is often referred to as being the closest equivalent.

Two years separation is the most amicable way to divorce as you both must agree and it doesn’t require either of you to blame the other.

If you are not sure whether you can use two years separation, there are five ‘facts’ in total that you can rely on to prove your marriage has broken down irretrievably:

If you would like more information or you're not sure which grounds to use, read our blog on the other 'facts' or 'grounds for divorce'. Or book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.

What is the ‘two years separation’ grounds for divorce?

What is the ‘two years separation’ grounds for divorce?

The legal system in England and Wales defines two years separation as living separate lives for more than two years. It does not mean you have necessarily lived as two separate households.

If you have lived separate lives but under the same roof for all or part of the two years (for example due to financial constraints or for the sake of children) you can tick a box on the divorce petition to say you have had separate sleeping and domestic arrangements whilst living at the same address. However, if you have lived as a couple for all or part of the two years then you should consider using unreasonable behaviour instead.

You can have had periods of living together as long as they do not add up to more than six months and you have been apart for at least two years altogether.

How to use two years separation as the grounds for divorce?

How do I start the process of divorce after two years separated from my ex?

So once you have agreed together that this is the route you’d like to take, where do you start?

In order to begin the proceedings, both of you must confirm in writing that you agree to the divorce and that you have been separated for two years.

You will need to provide details of the addresses you have lived in and the dates you lived there since separating and leaving the family home.

The next step will vary depending on your preference as there are a few options. The chart below shows the range of these options from low cost to high cost and from the amount of control you will have.

Divorce is daunting, at amicable we offer a free, no obligation chat with one of our divorce experts so feel free to get in touch for more advice and find out if a divorce online is a good fit for you.

options summary

To actually get divorced legally there are three main things you will need to sort out:

We’ve written a different article that covers the full divorcedissolution process in England and Wales here. If you’d like more information or advice for your personal situation then please click here to book a free 15-minute advice call.

The Petition:

If two years separation with consent is being used as the grounds, the petitioner (the person filing for divorcedissolution) needs to provide the date that they separated with their ex and the date they both stopped living together as a couple. Whilst these dates can be the same or different, it’s important that you both agree on them. If they don’t agree this can cause delays.

The acknowledgement of service:

The respondent (the person responding to the divorcedissolution) must agree on the acknowledgement of service form if two years separation with consent is used as the grounds for divorce. If the respondent doesn’t agree this can lead to delays and further costs.

The decree nisi:

The decree nisi application includes two forms - the D84 and D80. The D84 form stays the same regardless of the grounds used, however the D80 form changes. If you have used two years separation with consent it’s the D80 D form. Remember you’ll need to include your address history since your date of separation on this form, so it’s useful to keep a record of this before you have to fill in the decree nisi application.

The decree absolute:

The decree absolute is the final part of the process and stays the same, regardless of what reason you have used on the forms. If you want any more information, we have written a helpful guide on the decree absolute.

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.


Why do we have to agree for two years separation?

The court needs proof (written) that your ex agrees you have been separated for two years. If your ex doesn’t agree then you will need to use a different 'fact' to support your divorce.

Can I change my mind once I’ve filed for divorce?

Technically you can change your mind once you’ve filed for divorce, but this will slow the process down and you will incur further charges for amending your petition. We suggest choosing your 'fact' or 'grounds for divorce' carefully before submitting your petition.

Will using two years separation as the reason speed up my divorce?

It depends. Two years separation is not necessarily quicker than using unreasonable behaviour as the grounds for divorce, as you have to wait for the two years to pass before using it. If you feel as though you have been separated for two years already, because you have slept separately and kept your domestic activities separate, you can then use two years separation with consent (if your ex also agrees).

Unreasonable behaviour may be faster if your ex agrees, as you can file straight away. However, if your ex disagrees with the examples of unreasonable behaviour that you have used on the petition, or won’t sign the paperwork, then it may not be faster.

Hannah Hodgkinson
Hannah Hodgkinson
Hannah Hodgkinson is Head of Marketing at amicable. Hannah has over six years experience working for global NGOs and private consultancies and has a passion for marketing for companies with a social purpose


Hi I’m enquiring about the full cost for a divorce to be completed and how quickly it can be done. There are 2 children involved but I have no intention to involve them in the proceedings as we will sort them separately. We have a house, my husband has a job, savings and a pension fund but I have no intention of trying to get any of it. I work so I can support my daughters and I am looking at renting a house. The reason for the breakup is just that it has run its course. As far as I am aware there is no third party. We will have been married for 14 years on 28/06/17. I would just like a price for a simple divorce as soon as possible. Thank you Lisa.

posted Lisa Wright at 10.06.2017 10:57

Hello Lisa, thanks for your enquiry. We offer two service, one for people who have made their financial arrangements together and need to us to do their divorce admin, and one for people who need our help in negotiating a settlement with their partner. All our fees are fixed price so no nasty bills at the end. Our divorce admin service is £300 (flat fee) and our full divorce service is £950 per person. We also offer a consent order service (which you can add on to either service) to make your agreements legally binding for £360 per person. The court process is slow, so it usually takes about 5 months from start to finish. It sounds like our £300 divorce admin service with a consent order would work for you. I hope this helps – please email me at [email protected] if you’d like further information or a free call.

posted Kate Daly at 10.06.2017 10:57

Hi im wanting a quick divirce within two months we have been seperated three yrs living apart we have no children or ties or assetts together can you tell me the time scale and cost please

posted Margaret brooks at 22.01.2018 23:51

Hi Margaret, I believe you have a call booked with one of my colleagues today but thought it would be useful to answer for anyone else who has a similar question. The whole process of getting divorced takes around five months. No matter if you do it yourself, use a lawyer or amicable – this wait time with the court will be the same.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 22.01.2018 23:51

hi there, My partner wants a divorce from his wife. They have been separated for around 4 years now and he has been living with me for the last 3 years. “There” situation – there is nothing in terms of financial connection – apart from my partners army pension. Childcare for the 2 children is amicable and set. How does he go about getting divorce procedures started? We have been reading online but it is not straight forward. Have you any idea of costs etc? Any help/advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

posted Samantha at 28.03.2018 17:16

Hi Samantha, thanks very much for getting in touch. We sent you an email but thought it was worth posting on here for anyone in a similar position. To kick off divorce proceedings in England and Wales, your partner needs to: 1. Have an original copy of the marriage certificate 2. Have an address for his wife 3. Have £550 ready to pay the court (although check he or his ex are entitled to any discounts before submitting the petition) 4. Have a reason for divorce – there are five reasons that can be used in England and Wales; adultery, desertion, two years separation (both people agree), five years separation (only one person has to agree) or unreasonable behaviour. It sounds like two years separation is the most relevant in this scenario. 5. Be resident in England or Wales 6. Have been married for at least a year To end any future financial claims against each other – your partner should consider getting a consent order. This is the document that makes the financial arrangements legally binding. In terms of cost for amicable helping you. For a simple divorce, we charge £300 including VAT (plus the court fee if you are not exempt / entitled to a discount). If your partner would like to divorce and get a consent order, it would cost £1200 for both people, and this fee can be spread over three months (plus court fees). I really hope this helps your partner – please get in touch if you’d like any more advice.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 28.03.2018 17:16

Hi, I’m Veronica, I had got married in india, 7 years back, came back to UK in 2016, I tried to get my husband to this country but failed in October 17, we have now been away from each other for at least 2 and half years now, but I’m not interested in him anymore and we didn’t really have any relationship as such, and he has not been helping me either . So I can I devorce him

posted Veronica keetan at 04.04.2018 18:35

Hi Veronica – thanks for getting in touch. We have sent you an email to answer your questions.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 04.04.2018 18:35

if i have a problem will i have to pay money now

posted odei nicholas at 23.04.2018 20:30

Hi Nicholas, if you’re looking for help, amicable offers a free 15-minute call. You can book a slot via the footer below. Or call 0203 004 4695 if easier.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 23.04.2018 20:30

My fiancee has proposed to me and I want to marry him but I am not convinced he has divorced his ex. How can I find out for certain?

posted Amy at 10.06.2018 11:25

Hi Amy, Thanks for getting in touch, yes this is something you can check. You need to request a search of the central index to find his Decree Absolute. To apply for a search you will need to complete a Form D440 and pay £65. If you would like to discuss further we can help by booking a call here

posted Pip Wilson at 10.06.2018 11:25

Hi my partner filed for divorce 18 months ago and has been living seperate for 2 years and his house in his name and the furniture it has been advised to pay his ex 10,000 grand minimum and to let her have the majority of the furniture, can this be right as they were not boy married for 2 years

posted [email protected] at 20.07.2018 19:28

Good morning and thanks for your message. It’s very difficult to answer this as we don’t have any detail on the full picture. In general, The law does not have a defined formula for dividing assets. The courts in England & Wales take into consideration: income, earning capacity and property as well as financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities. The starting pointing is a 50/50 split. But if one person has a greater need, for example, because they are housing the children or earn a lot less, then the split may differ. If helpful, get your partner to call us for some further advice – 0203 004 4695.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 20.07.2018 19:28

just do not now what to do hubby and i are living at different adresses we have been seperated 2 years in march 2019 he wont talk i am at my witts end.

posted jennifer anne elliott at 29.12.2018 21:12

Can you please help me .I have been leagally separated for two years now and need to know what to do about getting totally divorced

posted James Russell at 25.01.2019 18:09

We both been separated nearly two years we like divorce how much would it cost how long would it take please

posted Natalie at 10.02.2019 22:57

Good afternoon I left my ex 3 yrs on 4th march 2016 was married 21 yrs I have one son 21 yrs old no other parties were involved I want to divorce as I have nothing to return to I no longer love ex husband all I want is my name back I want absolutely nothing I want my son to stay with his dad I'm not contesting anything as I've worked & totally supported myself for 3 yrs from the ground up & continue to do so I'm very happy on my own that's my wishes.

posted Rachel at 01.03.2019 14:49

Hi my friend has been separated from there partner for over 4 years now as in not living nor together, they never contributed towards any bills/mortgage, will the assets still be split 50/50

posted Kc at 12.03.2019 0:27

I am reaching the required period of 2 years separation to begin the divorce proceedings. Do I need to wait until exactly 2 years have passed before submitting my online application or is it possible to submit it a month in advance?

posted Kevin at 14.03.2019 13:03

im enquiring, i have been separated from my wife since september 2017 (living in seperated houses) is there any way of getting a divorce quickly other than waiting until september this year? there are no assets or children to sort it is just the divorce paperwork.

posted D at 30.04.2019 11:44

Hello. Thank you for hosting such a useful blog. I applied for a divorce 1 April 2017. It was an amicable separation. When I submitted the papers the court responded that there was no evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. We have been living apart for since then - which is 2 years now. Can I apply amend the petition and resubmit on that basis. A court fee of 90 pounds applies. Is this something you do, and if so can you send me an approx cost. This is a straight forward separation - no kids and no disputes regarding finances or assets involved.

posted Arsh at 13.05.2019 21:45

Hello i have been separated from my ex now for 3 years. there are no financial attachments and child care has been sorted through the courts so it would just be getting my ex consent and filling in paperwork. how much do you think this would cost?

posted Anthony at 07.06.2019 11:25

Spararted for how long can marry again?my friend tell me if not sign the paperwork my husband can not marry with his girlfriend ? Thanks a lot

posted HuiYun cao at 03.10.2019 4:13


My partner and I wanting to divorce. Can you tell me the easiest/cheapest way to go about this. We are both in agreement have no children and just a house to sell/split.

Many thanks


posted Beccy at 16.02.2020 15:03

Hi Hannah, could you please advise on the costs involved for my divorce? My husband and I both agree to the divorce on separation grounds. We only need to agree a pension sharing order as we have already split the house assets. Many thanks, Denise

posted Denise at 14.04.2020 16:05

In October 2020 my wife and I will have lived apart for 2 years. I have heard my wife has been seeing someone. She left without me knowing. We both live in rented houses. I am 67 my 66 years old. Can I apply for a divorce now. Thank you.

posted Norman. at 01.06.2020 15:31

Hi I’ve been separated for 4 years now and we both want to file for divorce, we both agree that we need to move on our separate ways and agree that there’s no need for court or solicitor to be involved as it’s a mutual split how do I proceed with this as we would love to move on with our lives.

posted Steven at 13.07.2020 11:59

Hi, our marriage has come to an end. No one else involved. We have two kids, a house and a few other bits. We want it to be as amicable as possible. What would be the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to split? We can agree on who has what. And we can also agree on the childcare and children’s support costs. We just need to know the simplest way to secure the assists of the house once the house is sold, so we can both move on and buy a house each. Please feel free to give me a call on 07703737543

posted Jon at 19.10.2020 5:37

I have been separated from my husband and living with my partner for over 2 years. It’s amicable as in we split the children (Boys aged 12 and 8) on the same days each week - 3 nights with him, 4 nights with me. We just need to get things finalised as just let time go on basically. He lives in our house, which he has agreed we need to sell, and I stopped paying the mortgage when I left (he also has his girlfriend living there now and has for past 18months). We know we need to sell the house but he is now demanding his share of my redundancy pay (I only got made redundant earlier this month) and also my pension! - as far as I know he doesn’t have a pension set up himself whereas I have worked in previous employment for 27 years AND took my work pension out when I could about a year later when I was 18! Advice please - I want to get this sorted ASAP at the least cost to me as need to use my money for a deposit on a new home for myself, my two boys and my partners two girls whom he is the main parent (100%) years

posted Karen Marie at 29.10.2020 8:09

I am asking this for a friend..he has been separated from his wife 16 years ago,he is just thinking about retiring and would like to know if he can legally put single down on his papers

posted Dee at 04.12.2020 14:09

Hi, I need some advise. I am looking to divrce my husband ( 10 years) based on unreasonable behavior- verbal abuse . Do i have to go for 2 year separation first ? How do i prove verbal abuse ? Will they ask me to prove ?

posted numuo at 08.12.2020 16:30