divorce stages uk - photo of a couple showing the stages of divorce uk

There are three key stages to a divorce in England and Wales:

  1. the divorce application,
  2. the Conditional Order, and
  3. the Final Order.

The first question our clients often ask us is ‘how do I get a divorce’? This article covers each of the three stages of divorce and what you can expect from each one.

1 – The Divorce Application

To commence a divorce, one or both spouses together, will need to file the Divorce application. This can be done online, either yourselves or through a solicitor.

The spouse who files the divorce is known as the ‘applicant’ and the spouse who is not filing it is known as the ‘respondent’. If you are filing on a joint basis, you will be termed ‘applicant 1’ and ‘applicant 2’.

Once the divorce application is filed, the Court will send it to the responding spouse or ‘respondent’. At this stage, the respondent can acknowledge the divorce application online to enable the applicant to progress the divorce to the next stage. If a joint divorce application has been filed then both spouses will have to acknowledge receipt of the application.

A joint application means that both spouses are applicant and respondent.

2 – The Conditional Order

Once the respondent has acknowledged the divorce application, the applicant is able to apply for the Conditional Order 20 weeks after the divorce application was filed. The Court is only able to approve a financial agreement once Conditional Order has been pronounced.

3 – The Final Order

The Applicant can apply for the Final Order six weeks after the Conditional Order has been pronounced.

The Final Order can affect yours and your spouse’s claims on each other’s estates and you should not apply for the Final Order without having first agreed your financial settlement and had it documented in a Consent Order and approved by the Court. It is important that you take specialist legal advice before entering into any financial arrangement with your spouse.

Your marriage or civil partnership will only be dissolved once the Final Order is granted. This is separate from your financial claims, which will only be fully resolved once a Consent Order has been approved or a final financial order has been made by a judge.


If you have any questions regarding divorce please feel free to contact our family team.