Divorce: your action plan

The realisation that your marriage is over is very painful. It can be accompanied by high levels of conflict and mistrust. When you decide to divorce, you both need to make sensible decisions in order to minimise the impact on your children. We take you through the divorce process...


Regardless of how angry, sad or hurt you feel try to remain civil when dealing with your wife. This helps to protect your children from emotional harm, keeps the legal costs down and makes your post divorce recovery less difficult.

Can we deal with the divorce ourselves?

It is possible to do-it-yourself using the forms and booklets that are available from your local county court. Trained mediators can help in the process. However, you will still need to use the court to record the divorce itself.

Mediation: reaching agreement without the courts

Do I need a solicitor?

Making arrangements for divorce can be a fairly complicated process. You will need to deal with the division of assets and to make sure that neither party is disadvantaged. This is particularly important when children are involved. You may decide that only a solicitor can help you through that process.

Legal support

How do I get a divorce?

You must begin the process by filling in a form called a divorce petition and sending it to your nearest divorce centre. You must have been married for more than one year and must prove to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The court will accept one of the following five facts as proof:

  1. that your wife has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with her
  2. that your wife’s behaviour has been so bad that you can no longer bear to live with her
  3. that your wife deserted you at least two years ago
  4. that you and your wife have lived apart for at least two years and she agrees to a divorce
  5. that you and your wife have lived apart for at least five years

If your wife is submitting the petition, she will have to prove one of the factors.

Will I have to attend court?

If you and your wife can agree on the division of assets, including pensions and spousal maintenance as well as the arrangements for your children, you may not have to attend a court hearing at all.

You will need to attend a court hearing if you ask the court to make a financial remedy order or you are unable to agree about the arrangements for your children.

The family courts: Child Arrangements Order 

What about our children?

If you can agree who your children will mainly live with and how much time they will spend with the other parent, then there is no need to ask the court to make an order. If you can’t agree, then you may need to consider applying to the court for a Child Arrangements Order.

You may want to consider agreeing a parenting plan. This sets out the way that you and your wife intend to make arrangements for your children after divorce.

How much will the divorce cost?

The amount you pay will depend on your financial situation and the nature and complexity of your case. As a general rule, the more you disagree about, the more it will cost, because you'll have to go to court. As well as any solicitor’s fees, you may have to pay a fee for the following:

  • A fee of £550 to start the divorce
  • A fee of £255 to apply for a financial remedy order
  • A fee of £215 to apply for a Child Arrangements Order

Child support / maintenance


About the author

Clare Kirby qualified as a lawyer in 1983 and worked for several years in industry. She founded Kirby & Co in 1997. As a member of Resolution and an advanced member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel she is experienced and respected in the field of family law. Trained as a collaborative lawyer, Clare offers clients a range of options - traditional, and collaborative law - to best meet the needs of the individual clients.


Updated: February 2018


Hide comments (2)


  • Guest
    Depressed divorced Dad Wednesday, 16 November 2016

    What about the aftermath?

    There is no shortage of advice online for divorcING parents about the practical process of divorce. But I struggle to find a place where divorcED parents - particularly Dads - can help each other through in the long-term. Nobody tells you that - whatever the childcare arrangements are - the world sees the children as being in the Mum's care. Dads have to fight to be included in decision-making on every day matters. It's as if we are a perpetual afterthought. No amount of patient explanation to friends, the ex, schools or others makes the slightest difference. If you have a celebration (a child's engagement etc) the Mum will get cards, gifts, flowers, chocolates and the Dad will get nothing. FYI I have a 40/60 childcare split with my ex. But all their things are at her house. When they come to me, they have to pack a suitcase. And I am in the fortunate position of being able to house them all, but their bedrooms are empty. All their "stuff" is at their Mum's. It breaks my heart. It really does.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    A loving Dad Thursday, 19 July 2018

    A loving Dad

    I was in a marriage where i was emotionally tormented and even hit 3 times. The day I left was a huge argument and once again I was attacked. she called the Police on me when I had tried to defend myself, my face was all scratched. I could see my children going through hell. I decided to let them go, so that they could live in peace. AW before me leaving she would threaten me with divorce knowing how much my children and a marriage meant to me. she would tell me, we should separate and children could live between us. I left and brought a house around the corner, so that I could be there for my children night and day. The first furniture I brought was bunk beds and till this day 5 and half years later, she has not let them stay one night with me. And when I mention divorce she threatens me that she will move away and I would have to go to court to see my children and yet I pay all the bills and children's outside activities ie sports Guitar lessons tuition fees uniforms and even maintain her car. 5 and half years of separation , I still fear the torment she will put my children through and she knows that's my weakness. I don't know what to do, I don't want to put my children through more pain but I miss them soo much although I see them everyday but its never quality time its always dropping off hear there and everywhere or school runs. I feel stuck, cant sleep with worry

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