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How to get a divorce

View profile for Clive Masters
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Divorce and separation are sadly dominating much of the media this month – the spike in divorce proceedings in January is often the result of additional pressures faced by couples over the Christmas and New Year period.

You can get a divorce in England or Wales if you have been married for at least a year and you can prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK - this includes same-sex marriage - and you must usually have a permanent home in England or Wales.

How to get a divorce

To apply for a divorce, you must apply to a family court. If you have children, you and your ex-partner will be expected to agree on:

You will also need to divide your assets - your money and property. This should be done by way of a court order if you want to make it legally binding.

You can usually avoid going to court if you and your ex-partner can agree about the arrangements for the children, money and property and the reasons your marriage has ended.


Sorting out family disputes in court can be a long, stressful and expensive process. Family mediation involves a neutral third person – a mediator – helping you and your partner discuss and agree an outcome to your dispute between yourselves.

Mediation is more flexible and generally less stressful than going to court. It’s also usually quicker and less upsetting for you and your children. Importantly, mediation gives you and your partner (and in some cases your children) the chance to keep control of your own affairs and make decisions that suit your specific needs.

Couples are now legally required to consider mediation before applying to the family court to resolve a dispute about children or finances. This means that before submitting your application to court, you must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out about mediation and whether it can help you and your partner sort out arrangements for the future.

In special circumstances - such as where domestic violence is involved - you may not need to attend a MIAM. However, you will be asked to provide the judge with evidence (such as a police report to prove domestic violence has taken place).

Legal aid is available to help pay for mediation. Check if you qualify for legal aid funded mediation

Legal Separation

If you don’t want a divorce, you can get a legal separation, which means you’ll live apart without ending your marriage. You may also be able to annul the marriage.

Expert Legal Advice

If you’ve experienced a relationship breakdown and have decided to split from your partner, you’ll need practical advice from a local family law specialist.

Wilkinson Woodward has family mediation and family law experts based in Halifax and Huddersfield. You can also get general advice from your local branch of Citizens Advice .

Citizens Advice Calderdale

Citizens Advice Kirklees

Citizens Advice Bradford


Contact our experts for further advice