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How to apply for a divorce online in the UK

With so many people querying how they can apply for a divorce online in the UK, we thought we’d use our considerable expertise to produce a comprehensive five-step guide detailing exactly how people can both apply for and obtain a divorce. Before, we begin, though, you’ll need to know that, before you can file for a divorce:

Step one: find or replace your marriage certificate

The divorce process is much easier when you can send the court your original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate so it’s advisable you find your original copy or, if you’re unsure of where you left it, order a certified copy (note: you can find out how to order a certified copy of your marriage certificate here).

Step two: choose your grounds

When filing for a divorce, you’ll need to rely on one of five facts/grounds in order to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. These are:

  1. Adultery

Adultery takes place when one spouse engages in penetrative intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. This is an acceptable ground for divorce provided the parties began living separate lives within six months of the adultery having been discovered. The party applying for the divorce will also need to rely on their spouse’s adultery.

  1. Unreasonable behaviour

When filing on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, the spouse that files for the divorce is arguing that their partner has behaved in such a way that they can no longer remain married to them.

Whilst it’s logical to assume that the behaviour described should be extreme, this is actually not the case and anything that the party filing for the divorce found to be unreasonable can be used.

You can find common examples of unreasonable behaviour in divorce here, here and here.

  1. Desertion

If your spouse has left you and this occurred more than two years ago, you can file for a divorce on the grounds of desertion. As both parties will need to agree to the divorce in order for such an application to succeed, this ground is rarely used. Instead, couples that have been living separately for more than two years and both want a divorce are more likely to rely on…

  1. Two-year separation with consent

If the parties agree to a divorce and have been living separately for two years or more, then the process of filing for a divorce on this ground is simple. An application reliant on desertion will need to be accompanied by supporting evidence whereas, with two-year separation, this is not required.

  1. Five-year separation

If only one spouse wants a divorce and the parties have been living separately for more than five years, they can file on this ground. The key difference between this ground and two-year separation is that consent is not required.

Step three: file a Divorce Petition

In order to formally begin the divorce process, a completed Divorce Petition will need to be submitted to the court along with the original or a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

The Divorce Petition (which is also sometimes referred to as form D8) contains information such as the parties’ names, addresses, dates of birth and other personal information. It will also need to state the grounds for divorce and why the court can deal with the application (also known as jurisdiction).

It is also now possible to file these documents online through

Following a petition having been filed, a copy will be sent to the applicant’s spouse along with a form that they will need to complete and return to the courts in order for the divorce to progress.

Court fees

When filing for a divorce, a fee must be paid to the courts. This is set at £550 but can be reduced or even waived completely if you receive certain benefits or have a modest income. Many people assume that they won’t get any help with these fees but it’s surprising how many people do. You can find out if you can get the court fee for a divorce reduced or waived here.

Step four: apply for a Decree Nisi

Following the Respondent having returned their documents to the court (or following a bailiff having served the documents on them in the event that they’ve not returned them and the divorce relied on five-year separation), you’ll be informed and invited to apply for your Decree Nisi.

A Decree Nisi is granted following a judge having reviewed a divorce application and declaring that there is no reason a divorce cannot be granted. In order to apply for one, it is necessary to complete two additional forms, A Statement in Support of Divorce Dissolution (also known as form D80) and an Application for a Decree Nisi (also known as form D84). Both of these will be sent to the Petitioner by the court along with notification of the fact that the Respondent has acknowledged and consented to the application or that a bailiff has successfully served documents on them.

Step five: apply for a Decree Absolute

Once a Decree Nisi has been granted, the Petitioner will be informed of this, along with the date on which it was issued. The courts will also send an application for a Decree Absolute (also known as form D36).

Following six weeks and one day having passed from the date of the Decree Nisi, the Petitioner will be able to apply for the Decree Absolute which, as the divorce application has already been reviewed and deemed to be acceptable, is little more than a formality. The most common problem here is that people fail to wait until six weeks and one day have passed before sending their completed application to the court or failing to ensure that the date they write on the form is one that’s occurred six weeks and one day after the date on which their Decree Nisi was pronounced, also.

How Quickie Divorce can help

We can handle the entire divorce process from start to finish and even prepare and file a Clean Break Order so that all financial ties that exist between you and your spouse are completely severed.

Find out more about our online divorce packages by visiting our website today.

Comments 2

I married in Las Vegas 2006 & never registered the marriage in the uk. I’ve been separated for 3 years now, marriage just broke down no one involved, I now live in the Netherlands and ex is still in the Uk in the home we shared. We have no financial ties or children so all is needed is the dissolvement of the marriage.

Jackie Weller
The Netherlands

Hello Jackie, There is actually no need to register a marriage in the UK. Also, provided your spouse lives in either England or Wales, the courts in either country will have the necessary jurisdictions to both consider and grant you a divorce.

QD Admin