Process of divorce or civil partnership dissolution
The process of ending your legal relationship with your partner is called divorce if you are married, or dissolution if you are civil partners (with foreign same-sex marriages treated as civil partnerships under UK law). The process is broadly the same.
The first step is for one partner to file a divorce or civil partnership dissolution petition with the court, after which they (or the court) serves this and various other documents on the other partner.
The other partner then completes an Acknowledgement of Service Form in which he or she confirms whether they consent to the divorce/dissolution or intend to defend the proceedings. It is rare for divorce proceedings to be defended but if they are, a judge decides whether your relationship should be legally dissolved.
The partner who filed the original petition completes a few further forms, and a judge then considers all the papers. If he or she agrees that you are entitled to a divorce, they set a date for pronouncing the Decree Nisi or Conditional Order (the first decree in the proceedings which confirms that you are entitled to a divorce/dissolution).
Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi/Conditional Order is pronounced, the partner who filed the original petition can apply for the Decree Absolute/Final Order, which actually brings your legal relationship with your partner to an end. You are then officially divorced (or your civil partnership is dissolved).
While the process of dissolving your legal relationship is in itself quite straightforward, there is often a lot to be agreed (or decided by the court) before you finalise things, including your finances and arrangements for your children. It is very important that these issues are tied up properly before things are finalised, as you might not be able to make claims at a later stage.