The pressures of lockdown mean divorce enquiries have rocketed - but how do you go about ending your marriage in the UK?

Divorces usually see a big jump in January after the stresses of a family Christmas - but Co-op Legal Services has reported a 42% increase in the number of people asking how to end their marriage, compared with the same period in 2019.

It says the surge was from March 23 to mid-May - when lockdown rules were at their toughest, reports the Express.

Tracey Moloney, head of Family Law at Co-op Legal Services, said concerns about finances, jobs and the strain of spending increased time together, meant lockdown had broken some relationships.

She said couples often spent months considering whether to end their marriage before beginning the process.

Divorce is life-changing - and not a decision to be taken lightly. But if it's right for you, here's our guide to the steps you need to take.

Ending a marriage is a difficult decision

What is divorce?

A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage and a legal action taken between married people to terminate their marriage relationship.

It isn't purely symbolic - a divorce must handle questions about the splitting of assets including properties and debts between the parties and the custody of children.

Can you get divorced?

You can get divorced in England and Wales if all of the following are true:

If you do not want to get a divorce, you can get a legal separation where you can live apart without ending your marriage.

You may also be permitted to annul your marriage, but you will need to show that it was not legally valid. Reasons can include that it was not consummated or you did not properly consent to the marriage.

What are the grounds for a divorce?

When applying you need to prove your marriage has broken down and cannot be saved, and you will need to give one or more of the following reasons:

What are the steps to take?

  1. Get support and advice - such as counselling to help you with the divorce process.
  2. Check if you are entitled to get divorced.
  3. Get legal advice if you wish to seek more advice about the divorce process.
  4. Make arrangements concerning any children, money and property.
  5. Apply for a divorce either online or by post.
  6. Apply for decree nisi - which is required for a divorce to give the court more information about why your marriage broke down.
  7. Finalise your divorce by applying for your decree absolute. You have to wait six weeks and one day from the date of your decree nisi. Once the court approves your decree absolute, they will send you both a copy of it and your divorce will be complete.
  8. Report that your circumstances have changed - Once you have your decree absolute you must tell other Government organisations you are getting divorced if you receive benefits or your visa is based on your marital status.

How much does it cost?

Applying for a divorce costs £550. You may be able to get help with this if you receive benefits or are on a low income.

How to apply for a divorce

You can find the divorce form you need on the gov.uk website here.

To apply for a divorce you will need:

The process for divorce is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The government says that divorce applications are currently taking longer than usual to process because of of coronavirus.