How to use five years separation as the grounds for divorce
No-fault divorce was introduced in England and Wales on the 6th of April 2022 which removes the need to choose one of the five facts to support the 'irretrievable' breakdown of a marriage. All the information below is applicable to the previous system, and divorces that were issued before the 6th of April 2022.
You can read more about this change in our no-fault divorce guide
There are five ‘facts’ in English and Welsh law that you can rely upon to prove your marriage or civil partnership has broken down past the point of repair. The definitions of these facts can be confusing, this blog explains what the five years separation fact is and how to use it for divorce (for marriages) or dissolution (for civil partnerships).
How to submit for divorce using five years separation?
How is ‘five years separation’ defined in England and Wales?
In English and Welsh law, five years separation is defined as you and your ex-partner having been separated for at least five years. This means you must have been physically separate (living apart, sleeping separately and keeping your finances (bills etc) separate for at least five years).
If you are not sure if five years separation is the best grounds to use, read our blog on the 'facts' or 'grounds for divorce/dissolution' in England and Wales.
Does my partner have to agree?
No, your partner doesn’t have to agree to start divorce proceedings if you are using five years separation as the reason. However, you must be able to provide an address for your partner, so that the court can send your ex the divorce/dissolution petition.
If your ex doesn’t agree, this will slow down the process. For more tips to speed up your divorce, read our quick divorce blog.
Tip1: If you want to have an amicable separation, discuss the grounds for divorce with your partner first. See which grounds for divorce they would be more comfortable with. By including your partner in the process, you are more likely to reduce acrimony later on.
How do you start five-year separation divorce proceedings?
- Decide how you’ll get divorced or dissolve your civil partnership. Are you going to do it yourself or will you need someone to help?
- You will also need to send a copy of your marriage/civil partnership certificate (in English).
- You may also need to pay the divorce court fee which is £550.
Tip 2: Check if you’re eligible for a discount on the government court fee by using our free court fee calculator.
What if I’m not in contact with my ex?
If you’re not in contact with your ex, you will still need to demonstrate to the court that you have tried all reasonable means to find them. For example; contacted relatives, their place of work and last known address. If you can demonstrate to the court you have done this and are still unable to find them you can apply to ‘dispense with service’ - this is the process of proving to the court that you’ve tried everything in your power to get an address for your ex-partner’. If you think this applies to you speak to one of our experts by booking a free 15-minute call to find out about our ‘missing spouse service’.
How long does it take?
In general, it usually takes around four-six months to divorce or end a civil partnership. Beware of companies promising quick divorces within 12 weeks as this just isn’t possible due to the workload of most divorce centres.
Are online divorces faster?
There are advantages and disadvantages to having an online divorce. If you or your partner aren’t particularly tech-savvy, an online divorce may not be the best choice, or the fastest if you’re going to do it yourself.
How much does it cost?
Divorce is rarely completely free. You may need to pay the court £550 to process your divorce. However, you may be eligible for discount on these fees, just click here to find out if you're entitled to a discount.
So aside from the court fees, you have a choice about how you divorce. To work out what’s best for you, it’s worth speaking to us and we’ll talk you through the options to divorce.
If you're looking for tips on how to save money on your divorce, you can read our blog on how to keep the divorce cost down.
How does five years separation affect the divorce/dissolution paperwork?
If five years separation is used as the grounds for divorce/dissolution, then you need to include the date you stopped living together as a couple.
The acknowledgement of service:
If you are using five years separation as the 'fact' to rely on, you do not need consent of your ex. The acknowledgement of service form must be completed by the respondent (the person responding to the petition), however they do not need to agree to the grounds. They may choose to defend the divorce, and this may impact the cost and time it takes.
The decree nisi:
The decree nisi is the middle stage of the divorce and includes the D84 and D80 form. If you have used five years separation, the D84 form is the same regardless of the grounds, however, the D80 form changes depending on the grounds used. For five years separation, it’s the D80 E form.
Tip 3: Remember to include your’s and your ex’s address history on the D80 E form, so that the court know you have not lived together as a couple since separating.
The decree absolute:
The decree absolute application does not alter based on the grounds used. If you would like to read more about the divorce process we have a helpful guide on how to submit for divorce.
If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.
How long do I have to be separated to divorce?
You must be separated for a minimum of two years if you’ve got the consent of your ex, or five years if you don’t. Alternatively, you can use unreasonable behaviour and note the separation as an example of unreasonable behaviour.
How long do you have to be separated before you get an automatic divorce?
There’s no such thing as an automatic divorce, however, if you’re separated for over five years, you don’t need the consent of your ex to use the grounds for divorce of five years separation.
What to do if your partner disputes that you have lived apart for five years?
You may need to prove it. You can prove this by showing household bills/ information of when you/they moved out. You can also look into amending the petition and changing the reason for divorce to one of the other options.
How long does divorce take if the other party doesn’t agree?
If your ex won’t sign the divorce/dissolution paperwork, this will likely slow down the process. This also depends on the grounds for divorce. For example, if you use two years separation, you need your partner’s consent, so if they won’t sign, you’ll have to submit an amended petition using a different reason.
Is UK divorce law the same as English divorce Law?
UK law describes four different legal systems in the UK. When we talk about England and Wales, we are generally talking about the English and Welsh legal system. Scotland and Ireland have completely different legal systems. The divorce laws, therefore, change depending on which legal system is used.