It is only possible to formally end a marriage and obtain an official divorce through the Family Court. The marriage will be formally ended, and the divorce made official once a Decree Absolute has been obtained.

The person applying for the divorce is known as the petitioner. The other party is known as the respondent.

In order to start a divorce, the petitioner must complete Form D8. This can be done online or on paper. Once completed, Form D8 must be sent to the Family Court together with the applicable fee, which is currently £550. It is important that the form is filled out completely and correctly otherwise there is a risk of the Court refusing to issue the petition.

A divorce will be finalised once a Decree Absolute has been granted. This usually takes 4 to 6 months in undefended divorces and can take longer than 12 months in defended divorces. Timescales can be extended if finances and/or children are involved.

It is possible to obtain a divorce without legal assistance. This may be the case where the divorce and the reasons for it are agreed between the parties. A good divorce lawyer should be instructed in more difficult cases such as when a divorce is defended or if there are finances or children involved.

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