Divorce is the process leading to the legal ending of your marriage.

The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

To prove this you have to rely upon one or more of five facts. These are:

  • The other party has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them. Please note you cannot apply for divorce on the grounds of your own adultery.

  • The other party has behaved in such a way you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them ('unreasonable behaviour').

  • The other party has deserted you and you have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years.

  • You have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and the other party consents to a divorce  - 'two years separation with consent'. There can be circumstances when you can still be in the same house but still living apart, for example, living completely separate lives doing your own washing and cooking, sleeping in different rooms and not doing anything together either as a family or as one would expect of a married couple. If you think this could apply to you please     contact us for a more detailed discussion.

  • You have lived apart for a continuous period of five years – whether the other party consents or not. In this case the other party may file a notice with the court to prevent the divorce becoming final until financial arrangements have been dealt with.


Proceedings are started by filing with the Court a document known as a Petition which sets out various formal requirements on factual matters relating to the marriage itself, jurisdiction and children before asking for more details about the fact relied upon. Your original marriage certificate also has to be filed with Court although if this is not available a copy can easily be obtained from the local Registrar for about £10 if you were married in the UK. Matters can become a bit more complicated if you were married abroad particularly if you do not have the original certificate available.

Resolution have produced a helpful guide to the procedure itself which you can access by clicking HERE.

Family Law in Cornwall will represent you fully during the proceedings and take you through each stage to the final decree, the Decree Absolute, preparing all forms for you. The procedure is largely administrative and there should be no need for you to attend Court unless the other party is challenging costs, if claimed.

We will do this work for a fixed fee of £300  for our costs (no VAT is payable) but you will have to pay for a copy marriage certificate if required and the Court fees in addition. These are currently:

Fee on Filing Petition     £550 (from 21 March 2016)

The fees charged by the Court Service can change at short notice but were last increased on 21st March 2016. Even if you are not eligible for Legal Aid you may be entitled to a reduction or exemption but have to complete a detailed means form and produce supporting documentation. Click HERE for this - A lot of people find it easier just to pay because of all the documentation that has to be produced but it is worthwhile if you are in receipt of passported benefits - Income Support, Income based JSA or ESA, although the position with the new Universal Credit is not yet known.

Additional costs may be payable and become chargeable at the standard hourly rate if:

    There are difficulties in obtaining marriage certificate or a translation is required.
    The other party does not return the Acknowledgment of Service and personal service becomes necessary or the       whereabouts of the other party are not known.
    The proceedings become defended, that is, the other party files an Answer to the petition.
    Representation at a Court hearing is needed.

We will tell you of this in advance. Please note the fixed fee relates only to the process of divorce leading to the legal ending of your marriage with the Decree Absolute and not to any associated issues such as finance and children. The Court fee and a payment of account of costs will be required in advance but payment of the £300 can be made by instalments over the likely length of time it will take of 4 - 6 months.

If you are looking at different quotes online check to see how much you will be charged for these other aspects and bear in mind you can talk to us to deal with any questions. You are not left just to fill in forms online.