Can I Get a Divorce in the First Year of my Marriage?

Can I Get a Divorce in the First Year of my Marriage?
Vanessa Fox
Partner and Head of
Family Law
hlw Keeble Hawson

If you realise that tying the knot was a mistake from which you want to extricate yourself during your first year of marriage, you cannot start divorce proceedings in this timeframe.

This is because the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 section 3(1) states that No petition for divorce shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the period of one year from the date of the marriage.”

You can, however, start preparing proceedings before the 12-month deadline by considering on what grounds you will petition for a divorce.

This process involves the petitioner who instigates the legal action and the respondent who receives the petition.

You can also collate your financial information as dealing with the finances is often the most time consuming and costly part of a divorce.

Gathering all your mortgage statements, bank account statements, debts, payslips, business accounts and requesting Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) for any pensions you have, (these can often take weeks if not months to obtain), can help speed up the process when the time is right to start proceedings.

Under our current laws, a couple cannot divorce before they have been separated for 2 years if the other party agrees or 5 years if there is no agreement, without a ‘fault-based ground’ which has to be adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Following the high-profile case of Tini Owens who was forced to remain in a loveless marriage, a major reform is underway to introduce ‘no fault divorce’, enabling couples to part without apportioning blame.

In any separation or divorce, it is vital that the couple each take advice from an experienced family lawyer with an acknowledged reputation in their field – and not friends or family, no matter how well-meaning or certain of their facts they seem.

More articles by Vanessa Fox

About Vanessa

Keebles’ partner Vanessa Fox, has been head of the firm’s family law department since 1991.

The Legal 500 Guide praises Vanessa for her ‘broad knowledge of finance and childcare, and for her passion for collaboration; she is efficient, caring and robust’.

Collaboratively trained and a qualified mediator, Vanessa is a former chair of South Yorkshire Resolution and a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel and the Children Panel.

She can be contacted on 0114 290 6232 or at

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