The divorce procedure is straightforward to follow as it’s mainly a paperwork process.

This makes filing your own divorce possible without needing to instruct a solicitor.

You can only apply for a divorce if you have been in your marriage for at least 1 year.

The first step in filing for divorce is to complete a D8 divorce petition, where you state the reason for the divorce, e.g. 2 years separation with consent.

The divorce petition will then be sent to your spouse for them to acknowledge and return to the court.

The judge will then rule upon your case and if they see no objections, you’ll be given a decree nisi pronouncement date.

6 weeks and 1 day after this date, you can submit your decree absolute application, which is the last step in the divorce procedure.

When filing for divorce you’ll need to;

  • Submit the D8 divorce petition form
  • Make the court fee payment of £550 (can be paid via cheque made to HMCTS)
  • Provide your marriage certificate (or a translated copy if it’s not in English)

This is an overview of the divorce procedure in its simplest form. More detailed information can be found below.

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.

As we’ve mentioned above, you need to attach the court fee (usually via a cheque to HMCTS) and supply your marriage certificate.

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.

If you divorce is amicable, then your spouse should return this form within 7 days and you’ll move onto the next stage of proceedings.

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.

People not experienced in divorce law and procedure, i.e. 99% of the population, think that the court will just grant a divorce because both parties agree, when that is not the case.

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.

Starting 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. Following this guide will enable you to process your divorce papers yourself without needing to hire solicitors.

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.

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.

DIY Consent Order Service – £150

Managed Consent Order Service – £199

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.

Looking for help with your divorce?
Call us on 01793 384 029 or email us to find out how we’ve helped over 40,000 people obtain a divorce from £59 without hiring a solicitor.

How Divorce-Online can help you divorce

We have award-winning divorce services, that help couples obtain a quick, easy and cheap divorce.

Our Managed Divorce Service for £189 is the quickest and easiest way to obtain a divorce. We handle your entire divorce procedure whilst keeping you updated on the progress of your divorce.

Please call us on 01793 384 029 or email us today to speak to an advisor about your case to see if we can help.

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 & how our services can help you.

Guide to divorce

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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