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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 process works.

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.


Divorce eligibility

The three conditions for divorce eligibility:

1.      You need to have been married for a minimum of one year

2.      Your marriage must be legally recognised in UK

3.      Your marriage must have irretrievably broken down.

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 step.


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 only)

·        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 so.

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 conditional order.


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 number.

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 can change.

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