A guide to the online divorce process
Online divorce applications can be started by either one person (a sole applicant) or by the couple together (joint applicants)
Divorce, living together and family issues
Since the introduction of no-fault divorce on 6th April 2022, the
government has launched a new digital online and paper service for those
wanting to divorce. Here is a guide to explain how the online digital divorce
Online divorce applications can be started by either one person (a
sole applicant) or by the couple together (joint applicants). They do not have
to give a reason for the divorce, other than a simple statement that the
marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The three conditions for divorce eligibility:
You need to have been married for a minimum of
Your marriage must be legally recognised in UK
Your marriage must have irretrievably broken
These conditions for divorce eligibility apply for divorces in
England and Wales only, as they vary for divorces in Scotland and Northern
Ireland. If you are seeking to end a civil partnership you must also apply to
court to do so.
Starting the application process online
To start you will need the following pieces of information:
Full names and addresses of the married couple
Any contact telephone numbers
Email addresses (if you prefer communication
this way.) Your partner can be served papers by email if you have their email address,
and you know that only they have access to it.
The original marriage certificate or a
certified copy (and a certified translation if it’s not in English)
Proof of any name change if changed since the
marriage, for example a deed poll or change of name deed.
You will need to pay a fee, which is currently
£593, upon sending the application to court. You will need a credit or debit
card to make the payment if you are wanting to use the online process.
If you are on a low income or in
receipt of benefits, you may be eligible for help. You may be exempt from
paying some or all of the fee, but you will need to make an application to
determine eligibility by completing a form known as a “EX160”. You can get this
application form online or complete an online application to get a “help with
fees” reference number.
Initially, you will be taken to a screen to start the creation of
a secure login. You will then be directed through the online process step by
After you apply
Whether you are applying for the divorce on your own or jointly
with your partner, the application and details you give will be checked. Once
verified as accurate and correct the court will send out:
A notice that your application has been issued
A copy of your application stamped by Her
Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service
An “acknowledge receipt” (joint applications
A case number
Joint applicants must complete all the documents together. You
will apply for each stage in the process together so there needs to be
cooperation throughout the case.
If you are applying as a sole applicant your partner will be sent
a copy of the application and information about how to respond to it. You will
be told when they have been sent the paperwork. The timescales for responding
will depend on whether they have received the court papers by email or by post.
They are given a limited time to do this, and the court will advise you of the
date by which they should respond.
They should formally agree not to contest the divorce or confirm
that they intend to dispute it, but they will need to have the grounds to do
If your partner fails to respond the court will tell you what you
need to do next.
Applying for the conditional order
You will be advised how to apply for a conditional order, but you
will have to wait for the appropriate date before you can. The court will tell
you when this is. You will need to complete an application form online, and if
you have applied too early the application will be rejected.
The court will then review your application for a divorce, your
partner’s response and what you have said in the application. It must be
satisfied that you have the grounds for a divorce and that the documents are
correct and accurate.
If this is the case, you will receive a notice confirming that you
are entitled to a divorce and confirming the date when the conditional order will
be made. There is unlikely to be any need for you to attend court on this date.
You will then be sent the conditional order once it is granted
together with information about the next step.
Once the conditional order is granted you can ask the court to
make a financial settlement order because on or after this date the court has
power to grant one. There is no power to grant an order before the date of the
Applying for the final order
After a minimum of six weeks from the date of the conditional
order you will need to apply for the final order. You will be advised how to do
this, and If you apply too early it will be rejected.
You are not divorced until the final order is made, only on that
date does your marriage formally come to an end.
The court will send you the final order. This is an important
legal document which you will need to keep safe. You may need to produce it
from time to time as evidence of your divorce. If you lose or misplace it, you can
get a further copy from the court by paying a fee and giving the divorce case
Just because you are divorced does not bring to an end the
financial claims that you have against each other as a formally married couple.
These remain ongoing and could be brought at a later date. It is recommended
that you deal with your assets and achieve a settlement so that you have a
divorce along with certainty about the assets. Any delay in dividing them could
prejudice the outcome as valuations can fluctuate and personal circumstances
Remarriage can prevent financial claims being made if the original
application for a divorce did not specify a wish to seek a financial settlement
or you received the application for divorce from your partner and didn’t make a
financial claim yourself. You must take legal advice before remarriage if there
is no financial settlement order in place.
Should you require legal advice about how the online divorce
process could work for you, or if you need support in working out your
financial claims, you can search for a solicitor for free and without providing
any of your personal data at search4legal.co.uk/Home/Search.