Grounds for Divorce – Five 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.

There are five ‘facts’ in English and Welsh law that you can rely upon to prove your marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’.. The definitions of these facts can be confusing, this blog explains the five years separation fact and grounds for divorce.

How is ‘five years separation’ defined in English and Welsh law?

You and your partner must have been separated for at least five years. If you have decided to end the marriage but you both still live in the same property, the court will look at your living arrangements to decide whether you are ‘separated’ in the eyes of the law. For example, you may still live together, but sleep in separate parts of the house, eat and pay bills separately.

Does my partner have to agree?

No your partner doesn’t have to agree to start divorce proceedings if you are relying on five years separation. You must provide an address however, for the court to send your ex the divorce petition.

How do you start divorce proceedings?

  • Decide how you’ll get divorced.  Are you going to do it yourself, will you need a someone to help you such as solicitor/mediator or amicable divorce coach? For advice on the best option for you, feel free to speak to one of our divorce experts.
  • Fill in form D8 (the divorce petition) and send three copies to your nearest divorce centre.
  • You will also need to send your marriage certificate and the court fee with your petition
  • If your partner disputes you have lived apart for five years you may need to prove it. You can prove this by showing household bills.

What if I’m not in contact with my ex?

If you are not contact with your ex you must demonstrate to the court that you have tried all reasonable means to find them. For example, you have 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’. Please speak to one of our divorce coaches if this applies to you.

How long does it take?

This depends on your personal situation and whether you’ve already agreed on plans for childcare and financial arrangements. You can complete this divorce timeline to get a bespoke answer or book a free 15-minute advice call with one our Divorce Coaches here.

In general, from filing your divorce petition it can take around 20 – 22 weeks divorce. Beware of companies promising quickie divorces in 12 weeks. Its just not possible due to the workload of most divorce centres.

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. You can do it yourself using our free amicable divorce app or by doing it online. You can ask a lawyer to help you  – but this can be expensive if you have to go to court. To work out what’s best for you, it’s worth speaking to us and we’ll talk you through the options.

Book a free 15 minute advice call

About the author

Having experienced her own protracted and expensive divorce, Emma has spent the past 5 years working as a Divorce Mentor. Emma works with divorcing couples to find a pragmatic approach, thereby minimising conflict and costs.

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I am separeted 7 yrs.can I marry here in states, my name is Aida Luy macias
Hi Aida, thanks for getting in touch. You will still need to get a divorce, even if it has been seven years – let us know if you need any more help.
How much will I have to pay as kids live with me and get child and working tax credits
Hi Sean – if you’re referring to how much you’ll need to be pay in court fees, you can check here. If you’d like support with your divorce, you can read more about our pricing here.


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