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How to start divorce proceedings

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start divorce proceedings in England and Wales:

  1. Talk to your spouse

If you and your spouse both want a divorce, getting one is much easier. When one party does not want the marriage to end, they can delay or even prevent one entirely so it’s advisable that you talk to your husband/wife before doing anything.

  1. Find/replace your marriage certificate

You won’t be able to begin the divorce process without your marriage certificate. This means you’re either going to need to find it or, if you’ve lost it, replace it.

Luckily, if you were married in the UK, replacing your marriage certificate is pretty easy. It can be tricky if you married abroad, but is still possible.

If you did marry outside of the UK, getting your marriage certificate replaced will be a lot easier if you used a wedding planner; they’ll probably be able to contact the venue/registrar for you. Failing this, the nation’s British embassy should be able to help.

  1.  Download a D8 form

The divorce process officially starts when one spouse submits a completed D8 form (also known as a Divorce Petition) to the court. You can download a blank D8 form here.

  1. Complete your D8 form

Once you’ve downloaded a D8 form, you’re going to need to complete it. This is largely straightforward but, before you finalise everything, it’s advisable that you and your spouse agree some of the information you need to provide.

  1. Agree your reasons for divorce

Usually, if a divorce is delayed, it’s because the spouse that received the application for divorce wasn’t happy with the reasons provided on the petition.

If you’ve been separated for two years or more, this is unlikely to be a problem. All you’ll need to do is agree the date on which you separated. If you haven’t and you need to rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour, it’s a different story and you’ll need to provide more detail.

Fortunately, by simply discussing what’ll be featured in the document, a lot of these problems can be avoided.

You can find important information on adultery here and important information on unreasonable behaviour here.

  1. Submit your D8 to court

Once it’s been completed, you should submit your D8 form to the court along with your marriage certificate and court fee. You should check if you need to pay the court fees beforehand, though, as it’s likely you won’t need to pay the full £550 and may not need to pay a penny under certain circumstances.


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