What do I need to get a divorce in the UK?
If you want to apply for a divorce or dissolution of your civil partnership, before you apply, you need to consider,
- have you been married for over a year
- has your relationship permanently broken down, and
- is your marriage legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
If the answer is yes to all of the above, the application to end your marriage or civil partnership will follow the same procedure.
How to File for Divorce
You can apply online or by post. If by post, you need to complete a D8 form. The forms can be found online or at any county court.
You can either choose to make a joint application or make the application on your own as a sole applicant.
Some of the matters you will need to consider at the same time as you apply for your divorce will include:
- How to divide money that you share
- What will happen to your home
- Who will your children live with
You do not need to be in agreement about these issues before you file for a divorce or dissolution of your civil partnership. The process of the divorce takes approximately 6 months if you have reached agreements about how to divide your property and the other financial arrangements. If however there are disputes about your money and property it would be prudent to delay the date when you can apply for the final order namely the completion of the divorce. We strongly advise that you seek legal advice on these issues before finalising the divorce as the decisions you make at this point could have a lasting impact on you and your children's future.
The fee for the divorce petition is £593. You and your partner can agree to share the costs, but only one of you can make the payment, so if you have agreed to share it, it is advisable to get payment from your partner in advance as only one method of payment will be taken.
The final document confirming that you are divorced, or that your civil partnership has ended is called the final order and can be applied for six weeks and one day after the conditional order has been granted.
The Divorce Process Explained
There are 7 steps to the procedure for divorce or ending a civil partnership. These are as follows:
1. Decide who should apply.
You may file alone (in which case it is a sole application) or together (in which case it is a joint application). A joint application should only be filed if you are able to agree matters during the entire process of the divorce. If you start with a joint application but want to change to a sole application, you must wait a minimum of 20 weeks after the initial application. When applying jointly, one of you is “applicant 1” and the other is “applicant 2.” Applicant 1 pays the fee. If you file a sole application, the person who files it is called the applicant, and pays the fee, and the “respondent” is the party who receives the notification of the application.
2. Get the information and documents you’ll need.
a) You will need a marriage or civil partnership certificate. A few things to consider:
- Duplicate certificates can be applied for
- If married abroad and the certificate is not in English, you will need a translation and you may also need to provide a notarised copy
b) You’ll need to provide your partner’s name, home address and (personal) email address.
c) If your name has changed (apart from by marriage or the civil partnership), you will need to file a document with your application to confirm that the change has been made. For example, a change of name deed, or deed poll, could be sent with your application.
3. Fill in the application
The form can be filed online or can be submitted by post. Be sure to tick boxes accurately and be careful to indicate the following:
- If you desire to keep your address private from your partner
- Whether you are applying for a financial order and if you have children as your financial positions may need to be considered
4. Check how your partner will be told about the application
The court will usually email and send a copy of the application through the post to your partner when filing sole applications. When filing jointly, both partners will receive the email.
5. Find out how your partner can respond
Your partner will be asked to respond to the court that he or she has received the application. They can only dispute the divorce or dissolution for one of the following reasons:
- the marriage or civil partnership wasn’t valid in the beginning
- they think the marriage or civil partnership has already been ended through divorce or dissolution
- they don’t think the court has jurisdiction
6. Ask for a conditional order
20 weeks after the application has been issued, you may apply for a conditional order. The court will consider the paperwork to decide if all is in order and whether your divorce or dissolution can proceed.
7. Ask for a final order - this completes the divorce or dissolution
6 weeks and 1 day after the conditional order has been granted, you can ask for a final order. This officially marks the termination of your marriage or civil partnership.
Guide to Divorce Documents
D8 Divorce Petition
To confirm your claim for divorce
Original Marriage Certificate
Translation of Original Marriage Certificate (if not in English)
If married abroad, a translated marriage certificate must be provided.
*If there is no statement of truth in the translation, you will also need this form notarised.
If you have a low income, you may be able to apply for a fee exemption to cover divorce cost (£593). Whether you’re eligible depends on what savings you have, what benefits you’re on and your income.
This is the final document which proves that you are divorced, or that your civil partnership has ended. This will be provided on application at the end of the process.
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