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:
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.
To actually get divorced legally there are three main things you will need to sort out:
- Children arrangements
- Financial arrangements
- The legal bit aka filing the divorce paperwork with the courts
We’ve written a different article that covers the full divorce/dissolution 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.
How does two years separation with consent affect the divorce/dissolution paperwork?
If two years separation with consent is being used as the grounds, the petitioner (the person filing for divorce/dissolution) 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 divorce/dissolution) 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.