CP Law Associates

A Guide on Divorce or Dissolving a Civil Partnership

The 4 Basic Steps


Right now, you are probably feeling deeply unhappy with your marriage or civil partnership, for many different reasons. Making you feel lost, overwhelmed and worried. This guide on divorce or dissolving a civil partnership should provide you with some answers. 

When a marriage or civil partnership first breaks down, it can be one of the most emotionally stressful times of your life and getting a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership can be no exception. But, it can be the start of a much happier, brighter future.

Setting out to get a divorce can seem really scary too. You’ve got to become familiar with legal processes and jargon that you know very little about – for some, dealing with the legalities of a divorce can feel like a fighting an uphill battle.

Especially, in an age where online divorces and other DIY methods are more readily available – those who go for these options quickly feel the weight of their divorce – adding even more stress, anxiety and worry to their lives.

That’s why it’s vital to find and work with a lawyer that will take the weight off, do the hard work for you and fight hard to protect your best interests.

That’s where we step in – we’ll do everything we can to make this very stressful time easier by providing sound legal advice, support and representation when you need it most.

By reading this guide on divorce, you will discover:

  • The 4 basic steps to getting a divorce
  • Timelines and the different legal stages of a divorce
  • How childcare is arranged
  • How your assets will be separated
  • What to consider when instructing a lawyer
  • How lawyers charge

After reading this guide, you might feel that getting a divorce is easier than you think – with the right support.

If you have any questions, or you’d like to speak with a member of our team we offer a free initial consultation – to book this simply call or send us an email.


Getting a Divorce

If you want to get a divorce in England or Wales, you’ll need to have been married for at least a year. You’ll also need to be a permanent resident in either country.

If you’re the person filing for divorce, you’re known as the ‘petitioner’. To help you understand the divorce process, we’ve broken it down into 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Divorce Petition

First, you’ll need to file for a divorce and express your reasons why. This is called a divorce petition.

Step 2: Decree NISI/Conditional Offer

Secondly, your lawyer will help you apply for something called a ‘decree nisi’. Other law firms may call this a conditional order. This is when you state your grounds for divorce and the court provides permission for you to legally separate.

Step 3: Divorce Financial Settlement/Child Custody

Before you apply for a ‘decree absolute’, it’s usual for people to agree on how their children will be cared for and how their assets will be separated via a consent order, divorce financial settlement or child arrangement order.

This step is actually separate to the divorce itself, but is naturally part and parcel of the process.

Step 4: Decree Absolute/Final Order

Once you have your Decree Nisi and you have agreed on how your children will be cared for and how your assets will be separated, you can apply for ‘Decree Absolute’ or ‘final order’. This is the final stage that legally ends your marriage. You can apply for a Decree Absolute 43 days after you have been granted a decree nisi.


One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked is: “How long does a divorce take?” Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a quick divorce.

June 2019
A new bill called The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, if passed, may introduce a minimum overall timeframe of six months.

Whether or not this bill is passed, it is usual for a divorce to take as long as 4 to 6 months, if everything goes smoothly.

However, this timeframe is very dependent on your individual case. If you cannot agree on childcare and how your assets will be separated, it will need to go to court – this will take much longer.

Unfortunately, the divorce process in the UK is archaic meaning it takes months, as opposed to weeks, to deal with.

We do our upmost to help you reach an amicable agreement as quickly as possible and to avoid having to go to court, as this can significantly delay getting a decree absolute.

However, on occasions, going to be court cannot be helped and is sometimes the best course of action to help you win the best settlement.


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