How to Get a Quick Divorce in the UK

Updated November 21, 2016

Filing for a quick divorce is fairly simple in the United Kingdom. It is less complicated than the procedures used by some states in America to get a "quick" divorce. As long as both parties are in agreement, divorce matters can be handled quickly and painlessly for both parties involved. However, in order to obtain a quick divorce, you must have been married for at least a year, lived in England or Wales during that time and want an uncontested divorce for this process to be successful.

File your petition to obtain a divorce to begin the procedure.

This petition can be filed for a few different reasons: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion and separation for two years with consent, or for five years without. Note that "irreconcilable differences" is not a valid reason to end a marriage in the UK.

With this petition, other necessary documents must also be jointly filed, including the statement of arrangements for children, if there are any involved. Understand that filing for divorce does not also solve any custody problems; rather, custody is decided in a completely different court under a different procedure.

Serve an acknowledgement of service petition.

This step is conducted by the court after your submission for a petition of divorce is received. This letter is sent to the other party involved in the divorce, known as the respondent, letting the other spouse know your intent in the matter. The respondent has seven days to respond to the court. A copy of this response will be sent to the individual who applied for the divorce, and provided the second party is leaving the divorce uncontested, the divorce procedure may move along.

File an affidavit in the court.

An affidavit is used to ensure that all terms put forth by the petition for divorce are clear and known to both parties, as well as checking to make sure the individual who signed the paper was actually the respondent and not someone else signing in lieu of that individual. Once verified, the affidavit will be returned to the court, which will determine if the hearing should proceed based upon the evidence provided.

Obtain your decree nisi.

If the judge handling your case determines that everything is in order and a divorce can be granted, a decree nisi date will be set for your case. Neither you nor your spouse is required to attend this procedure, as it is simply the judge stating that he believes the marriage may be dissolved after the proper waiting period.

There is a mandatory waiting period of six weeks before the divorce can be made final. Though the decree nisi believes compelling evidence is provided to support the divorce, it is not until the Decree Absolute is filed that the divorce is finalised.

Receive your decree absolute.

After the waiting period, provided the divorce is still uncontested, the court will grant a divorce by submission of the decree absolute. The parties involved must ask for this final process to occur, though the rules are different. The individual initially responsible for the petition of divorce may request dissolution under this decree immediately after the six week waiting period. However, the respondent may only request the finalisation of the divorce after four and a half months have passed and the other party has not requested for a decree absolute.

Both parties must pay the appropriate court fees to obtain the decree.


A petition for divorce may be taken to any divorce county court or to the Principal Registry in London if you live in England or Wales. If you live in Scotland, you must take the petition to a sheriff court. If separation is the reasoning for the divorce, you do not have to obtain a decree absolute at the time you file for separation.

Things You'll Need

  • Petition for divorce
  • Statement of arrangements for children (if there are any involved)
  • Acknowledgement of service
  • Signed divorce affidavit
  • Decree nisi
  • Fees
  • Decree absolute
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About the Author

Kelly Kaczmarek began writing when her first published work was presented at her alma mater's Women's Studies Research Symposium. Her articles now appear on various websites. After studying abroad in Europe and Japan, Kaczmarek earned a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Bowling Green State University.