No-one knows how to get divorced until they start the process. This blog post explains how it all works so you know what to expect.


I often find when couples come to me in mediation that they are confused about divorce; they often (wrongly) assume that the process automatically includes making arrangements for their finances and children. It doesn’t.


The divorce process is actually an entirely separate legal process to making decisions on your finances and your children’s arrangements. You can get divorced without agreeing your finances or children’s arrangements, although this is not recommended. But you can’t get your financial arrangements approved by the court without starting the divorce process.


It is advisable to run the divorce process and reach agreement on your finances in tandem. This means that you start the divorce process and obtain your decree nisi. At the same time, you start negotiations on your financial arrangements. Once you have agreement on your finances, then you apply to the court for a consent order in order to make your agreement legally binding. Then you apply for your decree absolute. It is almost as if your financial arrangements are sandwiched by the divorce process on each side, as illustrated below.


Step 1

Petition for divorce and obtain a ‘decree nisi’. You can either do this yourself online or your solicitor can do it for you. You will find helpful information about the divorce process here.


Step 2

Reach agreement on your finances. You can either do this by yourselves, or you can leave your solicitors to negotiate for you or you can come into mediation. We think that mediation tends to be the quickest, most cost-effective and less adversarial way of reaching agreement – but you might think we are biased in that view!


In mediation we work with you to complete your financial disclosure. This is a legal requirement if your financial arrangements are to be approved by the court. We will then help you to negotiate and to reach a financial agreement with which you are both satisfied. At the end of mediation, will provide you with a ‘memorandum of understanding’ (a summary of your agreement).


Your memorandum of understanding is then taken to a solicitor to be drafted into a legal document called a ‘consent order’, which is sent to the court to be approved. Technically, the court need not approve your consent order although this is unusual if you have worked with a good mediator and received legal advice.


Step 3

An application for you ‘decree absolute’ is then made. This is the final step in your divorce process. A financial order cannot take effect until you have your ‘decree absolute’.


Steps 1 and 3 are done by you or your solicitor. Step 2 is covered in mediation, should you choose to mediate.


Reaching agreement on the arrangements for your children is a less formal process and can be started and finished, or revised, at any stage.

If you would like to talk to a mediator about negotiating your financial or children’s arrangements using mediation, please contact me on 07706 513496 or

Disclaimer: I am an accredited mediator and not a qualified lawyer. This information is provided to give you simple and straightforward information about issues impacted by divorce and separation.
However, you should not treat this information as legal advice. It is always advisable to take full legal advice on your particular circumstances from your solicitor.