If you want to learn how to apply for a divorce in England or Wales through the courts without the assistance of a solicitor, continue reading to find the 4 simple steps to filing for divorce.
4 Simple Steps To Applying For a Divorce
Going through a divorce is an extremely difficult time that takes a great toll on everyone involved in the relationship, especially if you don’t understand the divorce procedure or how to complete the divorce forms.
From children to finances and belongings, many arrangements need to be made before you can even contemplate filing your own divorce papers without using a solicitor.
Not only is the divorce process daunting, it can also be a considerable expense when handled by solicitors, which adds more stress on an already stressful time.
However, it is possible to file the required divorce forms yourself, especially when both parties are in agreement.
You can follow this detailed step-by-step guide, where you’ll learn how filing your own divorce papers works, and the procedure you will need to take in order to complete the divorce process with no stress or mistakes.
Divorce-Online can provide you with all the divorce forms you’ll need to complete your own divorce, completed and checked within 24 hours for just £59 fixed fee.
View our DIY Divorce Service – Used by over 40,000 couples in the UK since 1999.
When can you file for divorce?
You are able to file for divorce once you have been married for at least 1 year and have a valid reason for divorce, also known as the grounds for divorce.
Once you have both of those, it is then entirely up to you when you wish to file for divorce.
One of you either needs to be resident in England and Wales or if you live abroad, you consider the UK to be your long-term home.
You are not required to have a solicitor and you have the right to represent yourselves as a couple and are able to file your own divorce.
It is a myth that if you leave it a long time you can get an automatic divorce granted, sometimes it actually makes the process longer and more expensive.
Once you receive your decree absolute certificate through the post from the courts, you are officially and legally divorced from your spouse.
However, this does not mean that you have severed financial ties with your spouse; you will need to obtain a financial order to secure your finances following a divorce.
Prerequisites for divorce
When considering filing for divorce you must have your original marriage certificate, or a translated copy of your marriage certificate if it isn’t in English.
This must be attached to your divorce petition when submitting it to court.
As with all divorce cases, there are court fees to have it processed by the judge and court staff.
These court fees are currently £550 to file for divorce and a further £50 to file a financial application or order.
You should ensure that all details on the divorce petition are accurate and correct as any errors on this form can lead to longer timescales for divorce and additional costs of up to £140 each time it’s submitted with errors.
1) Submit divorce petition to divorce centre
When looking to file for divorce yourself, be aware that you have completed the correct form for your chosen ground for divorce as there a 5 different petition forms available.
Once you are happy that all the details on your divorce petition are accurate, you need to submit it to the court, which is typically done via post.
Visit the government website and enter your postcode to find your local divorce centre where you can post your divorce petition into.
2) Acknowledgement of service
This is the second stage of divorce proceedings, which is where the respondent (the person being divorced) signs a form from the court to say that they are happy for it to continue.
The court will send your spouse a copy of the divorce petition along with an acknowledgement of service form.
This form needs to be signed and sent back to the court within 7 days of being in receipt of it.
We recommend speaking to your spouse if at all possible and explaining when you have filed the divorce so that they can keep an eye out for the acknowledgement of service form.
Any delays in returning this form, or refusals to return it can lead to significant delays and sometimes even additional money.
3) Decree Nisi application & pronouncement
At this stage in divorce proceedings, you reach the interim divorce certificate, which is called the decree nisi.
This certificate says that you are entitled to a divorce and that it will be made final after a mandatory cooling off period of 6 weeks following the making of the decree nisi.
As long as neither you nor your spouse contests the divorce petition, you need to fill out an application for a Decree Nisi and a statement of truth.
This is a legal document that states the court finds no objections to your divorce.
If either spouse objects to the divorce petition, it will be necessary to attend a hearing.
At that point in time, the court will decide whether or not your divorce petition should be granted.
This part of the process goes much more smoothly when both parties are in agreement.
The decree nisi application is dealt with by a District Judge of the Family Court who will;
• A) make sure the forms have been completed correctly.
• B) make sure the law has been complied with.
• C) make sure the Family Proceeding Rules have been complied with.
If the judge is satisfied that all these elements have been complied with, they will grant the decree nisi.
If not, the divorce will be refused and directions are given as to what needs to be done in order to satisfy the judge.
4) Decree Absolute application & certificate
Once a Decree Nisi has been granted and you have waited 6 weeks, you are now ready to progress to the finals step in the proceedings.
At this point, unless there has been a change of heart and you have got back together, you should apply for your decree absolute.
This is the legal document that officially dissolves your marriage.
Make sure you file for your Decree Absolute within a year after the Decree Nisi is granted, as otherwise, you’ll have to go through more court proceedings.
Of course, the various forms need to be completed correctly at each stage and if any complications arise, you may not have the knowledge or skills to be able to deal with the divorce procedure yourself.
Additional court fees will be required if there are any mistakes or amendments needed to the papers, which are a lot higher than our DIY Divorce Service for £59.
The law for divorce is contained in The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 ( as amended) and the procedure for divorce is contained in the Family Procedure Rules 2010.
Financial orders in your divorce
Obtaining a divorce does not sever your financial ties or commitments from your spouse; it merely dissolves your marriage.
The mistake most amicable couples make when filing for divorce is that they fail to obtain a financial court order to legally separate assets and finances.
They believe that because they have a good amicable relationship that it’s unnecessary or they believe that getting a divorce is enough and finances are already sorted.
Obtaining a financial order is done separately to the divorce proceedings and is the only way to legally divide your assets and finances. Without one you are financially tied, even years after.
Now, we understand that words like financial order, or financial settlement might sound daunting, but we can help you obtain a legally binding financial order without needing to spend thousands on solicitors.
Divorce-Online have helped over 40,000 couples obtain a consent order from just £150 fixed fee.
We can put your agreed financial settlement into a consent order and explain how to file it yourself, or actually deal with the entire process for you. Please see our services below.
The easiest way to divorce is 2 years separation with consent
The easiest way to divorce in England and Wales is to have been separated for 2 years and that your spouse is in agreement and will sign the divorce papers to say they agree to the divorce.
This ground does not require the judge to make a decision on the facts of the case.
If you have been separated but still use the same house, this will present difficulties, so please get advice on your individual arrangements.
For those looking to do your own divorce, we’d always recommend using this ground if possible because it removes any potential complications with judges or spouses.
Please note that this guide to filing your own divorce only deals with the basic requirements for filing a divorce.
We can still help even if your spouse will not sign the divorce papers or you do not know where they are.
We can help you even if you believe that your spouse may not sign the divorce paperwork; or at least help guide you through the process of that situation.
Also, the Gov.uk website does not offer a divorce service for £550 as some people seem to think – This is just simply the court filing fee and not a service.
They will not be able to advise you on filing your own divorce, how to complete the forms or what to put in them, they are just simply the forms.
How Divorce-Online can help you divorce
We have award-winning divorce services, that help couples obtain a quick, easy and cheap divorce.
Want to find out how to file your own divorce papers without needing to hire a solicitor? Download our free guide below!
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Free information regarding divorce requirements, the grounds for divorce & information on how our services can help you.