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Automatic Divorce After 7 Years in England and Wales

 July 2023

There is a commonly held belief that couples are automatically divorced after being separated for 7 years. This notion is wrong.

In this article, our family law solicitors look at the topic of automatic divorce after 7 years and provide clarity on the legal process for divorce.

Initial Discussion

This summary provides general information and does not constitute legal advice on any individual circumstances. 

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134 or email us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

The 7-year Divorce Myth

Contrary to popular belief, there is no provision in law for an automatic divorce after separation for a specific period, such as 7 years. Divorce proceedings must be started to obtain a divorce.

Separation and Divorce

You do not need to be separated for a minimum period before you can start divorce proceedings in England and Wales. You can start divorce proceedings as soon as you realise that your marriage has irretrievably broken down or wait for as long as you want.

If you are separated, there is no pressure to start divorce proceedings. Some couples prefer to separate without starting divorce proceedings. If you decide to proceed in this way, arrangements for the children can be recorded in a parenting plan and any agreed financial settlement can be set out in a separation agreement.

If you have separated from your husband or wife, it is best to take legal advice. A family law solicitor can advise you on whether starting divorce proceedings is in your best interests. In some scenarios, you may be content to remain separated with a negotiated separation agreement.

No-fault Divorce Proceedings

To obtain a divorce in the UK, you must file an application for a divorce or your spouse needs to do so. You do not need to go into the reasons for the decision to separate in the divorce paperwork. You simply need to say that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Financial Settlements and Divorce Proceedings

It is often assumed that if you separate but do not reach a financial settlement there is an automatic bar to making a financial claim after you have been separated for 5 or 7 years. That is not correct. Provided you have not remarried you can bring a financial claim at any stage.

It is also thought that when you get your final order of divorce the court makes an automatic clean-break financial order to stop any further financial claims other than those agreed between you. Again, that is not correct. You need to ask the court to make a financial order. If you do not do so, then either of you could potentially make financial claims in the future.

Seeking Legal Advice

Navigating the complexities of divorce requires professional guidance. Consulting a family law solicitor is crucial to understand the divorce process, your potential financial claims and your rights as a parent.

As divorce is a significant step in your life, it is vital to get the right professional support to provide you with the guidance and reassurance you need during this challenging time.

How Can Fullers Help?

We understand that finding a solicitor that you feel understands your own specific situation can be a daunting task. So, you can book a free call back with us here.

We have also created a series of fixed-price consultation meetings with a full ‘no questions asked’ money-back guarantee promise.

For an initial discussion and a no-obligation quote, get in touch with us today by simply calling us on 01234 343134, filling in the contact form below, or emailing us at and a member of our team will get back to you.

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