Can you Divorce Before 1 Year of Marriage?

Marriage isn’t something that should be taken lightly and both parties should ideally be fully committed to it. However, we know a lot can change before a year has even passed and you may have changed your mind on your decision. 

Ending a marriage before the 1 year mark can be tricky, but there are methods you can use to make a divorce possible. 

Can you divorce within the first year of marriage?

No, you cannot get a divorce within the first year of a marriage. 

You can only file for a divorce once you have been married for at least 12 months. Thankfully, there are ways in which you can separate from your partner if you no longer want to be married to them. 

Do you have to wait 2 years to get a divorce in England and Wales?

No, you only need to wait until you have been married for 1 year

There is only one ground for divorce in England and Wales, and that is the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. 

No-fault Divorce Law

before a divorce can be started. Consent of the Respondent Spouse is no longer t needed either, as a divorce cannot be defended save for in very limited circumstances such as the court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the divorce or the marriage is not valid.

The new rules however, do not mean that a divorce will be a quicker process, in fact it is a slower process. This is because a 20-week and 1-day reflection period has been introduced before the conditional order can be pronouncedapplied.

Once the conditional order has been pronounced, there is a wait period of a further 6 weeks and 1 day before you can apply for the final order which concludes the divorce.

Are there alternatives to getting a divorce before 1 year of marriage?

Judicial Separation 

Although you can’t get a divorce, you can obtain a Judicial Separation in the first year. This is a type of formal separation sanctioned by the court, enabling it to make orders about matrimonial assets in a similar way that would happen during an actual divorce. You can apply for Judicial Separation any time after the marriage, meaning you don’t need to wait a year like you would a divorce. 

To apply for Judicial Separation, you will need your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of it. There is no longer the need to prove any facts, and you simply have to state that you’re seeking Judicial Separation. This can either be made as a joint or singular application, but you should be aware that a court fee will be payable. 

If everything is agreed, then it should take around 5 months to obtain the Judicial Separation Order. However, this can take longer if there are outstanding issues to sort out, such as finance. 


If you don’t think your marriage is legal, you can ask for an annulment. However, to be accepted, your marriage must be:

  • Void – This means that the marriage never legally existed.
  • Voidable – This means the marriage was legal when it was registered, but became illegal.

Some of the reasons why you may choose an annulment include:

  • One party was already married 
  • One party did not agree to the marriage, such as being forced into it

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a private contract which you can obtain if you decide to separate, and it is a written agreement that sets out your financial arrangement while you’re separated. This can be obtained without the need for any court proceedings – such as divorce or judicial separation – provided both parties are agreeable to this.

It can cover different financial matters, such as:

  • Who pays the mortgage or rent 
  • Who continues to live in the family home
  • What happens to any debts
  • What happens to any savings, investments and other financial assets
  • Maintenance to be paid for any children

FAQs about divorce after a short marriage

How soon can you divorce after marriage?

You must wait at least 12 months after a marriage before you can apply for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. 

There is no requirement anymore for you to be separated for any period of time and you don’t need consent from your ex-partner either. 

Should you get an annulment or a divorce?

If you believe your marriage or civil partnership was not legal or you did not agree to the marriage, then getting an annulment may be a good idea if you are wishing to end the marriage, but annulments are rare.

If you’re not sure whether your marriage was legal or you think you fit into the categories for an annulment, contact our team today at VM Family Law. Our Family Law Solicitors will take the time to understand your situation and give you the most appropriate advice and guidance.

Our goal is to help our clients solve their family legal matters as smoothly as possible.

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