Grounds for Divorce – Two Years Separation

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Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 11:20 AM

Important update: in April 2019, the government confirmed that England & Wales will (at some point) change the current laws and introduce no-fault divorce. The information in this blog is still valid until the laws change, however when this will be has not yet been confirmed. For updates on no-fault divorce, please enter your email address below and we'll alert you about any important changes.

In this blog, I’ll be covering what you need to know if you are going to ‘rely’ the on two years separation grounds for divorce. Unfortunately, ‘no-fault divorce’ is not an option in English and Welsh law but two years separation is often referred to as being the closest equivalent. Two years separation is the most amicable way to divorce as it doesn’t require either of you to blame the other, you also have to agree to the divorce together.

There are five facts in total you can rely on to prove your marriage has broken down irretrievably;

  • Two years separation with consent (meaning you both agree to divorce)
  • Five years separation (you don’t need your partner’s consent)
  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion

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. 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 least two years altogether.

The divorce process

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 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.

Divorce tips info-graphic: options summary

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 process in England and Wales here. If you’d like more information on the grounds for divorce or advice on your personal situation then please click here to book a free 15-minute advice call.

Book a free 15 minute advice call

About the author

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

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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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Hi Veronica – thanks for getting in touch. We have sent you an email to answer your questions.
if i have a problem will i have to pay money now
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.
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?
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
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
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.


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