Can you Get a Divorce without Going to Court?

There’s no denying that the thought of going to court can be daunting. And many people are put off starting divorce proceedings for fear that they’ll need to appear in a courtroom.

But the reality is that if you’re getting a divorce in the UK, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll need to attend court in person.

In most cases, divorces are dealt with entirely on paper by the courts. And since the introduction of no-fault divorce, it’s become increasingly rare for divorcing couples to have to appear before a judge.

The impact of no-fault divorce

In the past it has been difficult for separating couples to divorce amicably. This was largely because in order to get a divorce, you would have to place blame for the breakdown of your marriage. And unsurprisingly, this would often create arguments before legal proceedings had even started.

Another element of the divorce process which has historically led to conflict is the ability for one person to contest the grounds of a divorce. In these cases, both people involved would usually have to attend court hearings and a judge would decide on whether to grant the divorce.

But with the introduction of no-fault divorce legislation in April 2022, it has become much easier for couples to separate on good terms. You no longer need to provide grounds for your marriage ending, and contesting a divorce is not allowed without a valid legal reason.

When would a divorce go to court?

If there is a genuine legal reason why your divorce cannot be finalised, your ex could contest it and the case would go to court. But this is extremely rare, and their reasoning must be based on one of the following factors:

  • Jurisdiction (the official power to make legal decisions)
    To get a divorce in England or Wales, at least one of you must be living in either of these two countries. This is because the courts in England and Wales may not have jurisdiction elsewhere, meaning that they would be unable to finalise the divorce.
  • Legitimacy of the marriage
    Although it’s uncommon, your ex may be able to contest your divorce if they can prove your marriage was never valid. This will usually apply if your marriage did not comply with the law of the country you were married in.
  • The marriage has already ended
    If you or your ex have residence in another country, it may be that your marriage has already been legally ended there. In this case, a divorce in England or Wales could be contested on the grounds that the marriage has already been formally dissolved.

Do you need a solicitor to get a divorce?

While it’s not required that you use a solicitor for your divorce, it is recommended.

An experienced family law and divorce solicitor will not only help you to legally end your marriage, they will also put your child care and financial arrangements into writing. This will give you the reassurance of a “clean break” from your ex, ensuring that all financial ties are severed.

And in the rare event that you do need to appear in court, having a solicitor by your side can make all the difference. They will present your case and make sure you’re prepared for each court hearing.

If you’re starting the divorce process, we can help you. We work with specialist family law and divorce solicitors who are committed to reducing the stress involved in divorce proceedings.

To find out more, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team. You can call us for free or make an enquiry online and we’ll get back to you.


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