It is mistakenly thought that divorce is automatic after a lengthy separation. This wishful thinking is, sadly, incorrect. To get a divorce it is still necessary to apply for a divorce.
If you want to divorce on the grounds of separation, you need to have been separated for two years (if you both agree) or five years (if you don’t agree) before you can start the process to get a divorce.
Two years separation with consent divorce
Before you decide to apply for a divorce on the grounds of 2 years separation, you should always check with your spouse that they are happy to agree to the divorce on this basis. The reason is that if your spouse does not approve (consent) to your petition, then it will not proceed. And there are significant cost implications.
The court fee of £593 (Increased 30th September 2021) and the costs of preparing the petition are lost. There are also additional costs and complexities to withdraw the petition. You will then find yourself back to square one having to start a petition based on a different ground.
Five years of separation no consent divorce
Five year separation is the easiest divorce petition to file because no consent (agreement) is required from the Respondent (the spouse receiving the divorce request). Even though the Respondent doesn’t have to agree, they still need to be aware that you want to divorce them. This means that you need to know where they live when you apply for your divorce, and show that they have received the paperwork.