Divorce can be a difficult experience, but starting the divorce process is fairly straightforward. If you decide to get a divorce, you will need to fill in a Court form called a Divorce Petition. You can find a copy of the Divorce petition form on the gov.uk website, which will allow you to review it before you decide if you want to use a Divorce Solicitor who can give you legal advice and explain the divorce process in more detail for you.
If you have received a divorce petition, see How to Respond to a Divorce Petition.
You should be aware that your financial arrangements with your former partner are not part of the divorce proceedings. If you can reach an agreement with your ex it's advisable to formalise it in a Consent Order at Court before your divorce is finalised. For more information see What is a Financial Order in Divorce?
Our Divorce Solicitors can help you to negotiate the best possible outcome in your divorce, and protect your finances so get in touch for an initial discussion.
How to File a Divorce Petition in England or Wales
A Divorce petition can be filed:
You will need to send the original and two copies of the divorce petition to the nearest Divorce Centre (see Where Do I File My Divorce Petition? below). Once the Court issues the divorce petition, one of the copies will be kept by the Court, one will be sent to you and one to the Respondent. You also have to attach your original marriage certificate and an original certified translation if one is needed, together with the relevant fee.
You can now use an online divorce scheme. Only people representing themselves are eligible to use the online service. If you are using a Divorce Solicitor, applying in Welsh or dissolving a Civil Partnership, you must apply by post.
How Much Does It Cost?
The divorce petition fee is currently £550 which is payable to the Court. You will need to pay this fee before the Court issues the divorce petition. You can either send a cheque with your divorce petition to the Court or the Court will contact you by phone to take a card payment from you. If you are represented by a Divorce Solicitor, you will transfer the money to your Solicitor who will pay the fee on your behalf.
If you cannot afford to pay the Court fee, you may be eligible for a ‘fee exemption’. To apply for a fee exemption you will need to file Form EX160. This form outlines how much total income you can earn to be eligible for a full fee reduction.
Where Do I File My Divorce Petition?
If you are filing your divorce petition by post, this should be sent to the closest Divorce Centre. To find the right Court see gov.uk website.
Completing a Divorce Petition
You can download the divorce petition Form D8 from the gov.uk website. There are notes to help you complete it on the form. If you make a mistake on the divorce petition, this will delay your divorce. Using a Divorce Solicitor will make sure that all the information on the divorce petition is right first time. In addition, because they are experts, they understand each question and the implications of your answers so can protect your position at every stage.
In Section One of the divorce petition you will confirm you are applying for divorce and not for dissolution or judicial separation. You will also need to confirm that you will attach your marriage certificate or a certified copy from the registry to the divorce petition. If your marriage certificate is not in English, you also need to provide the Court with a certified and signed translation.
In urgent divorce cases it may be possible to issue the divorce petition without the marriage certificate and provide it at a later stage.
In Sections Two, Three and Four of the divorce petition, you’ll need to provide the Court with your details, your former partner’s details and exact details of your marriage. This is straightforward, but read the instructions on the divorce petition carefully as it can be easy to miss out information. You can ask the Court to keep your details confidential from your former partner if you need to.
In Section Five of the divorce petition, you’ll confirm why the Courts in England and Wales have jurisdiction to deal with your divorce. In most cases, jurisdiction is based on habitual residency of the persons, or one of them being in England and Wales or on domicile. You can read more about jurisdiction, habitual residency and domicile in our article Difference between Habitual Residence and Domicile in Divorce, but if you are not sure about the jurisdiction in your divorce, you should speak to a Divorce Solicitor.
Grounds for Divorce
Section Six of the divorce petition clarifies that you will only have Grounds for Divorce if your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’. This means it has broken down completely and cannot be saved.
The next step will be to look at the reasons behind the marriage breakdown and base the divorce on one of the five facts listed on the divorce petition. They are:
- Unreasonable Behaviour
- Separation for two years with spouse’s consent
- Separation for 5 years (consent not needed)
You should note that you can still live in the same home and be separated, providing you are not living as a couple.
In Sections Seven and Eight of the divorce petition you will need to provide information to support the reason you’ve given in Section Six. These reasons can be questioned by your former partner later in the divorce process.
In Section Nine of the divorce petition, you will list any existing or previous Court proceedings, their summary and case numbers.
Dividing Your Money or Property
Section 10 of the divorce petition requires you to confirm if you wish to apply for a Financial Order for either yourself or any children. You should note that ticking these boxes does not automatically start financial proceedings. You will need a separate application to do this. It is advisable to tick ‘yes’, regardless of whether you decide to pursue the Financial Order or not.
You can read more about Financial Orders in our article, Do I Need a Financial Order? or speak to one of our Divorce Solicitors.
Summary and Statement of Truth
Section Eleven of the divorce petition confirms the application you are making and your intention of applying for a Financial Order, although the financial proceedings will not be started automatically.
You can also make a claim for costs of the divorce petition from your former partner. They may defend this and you may need to attend a Court Hearing if you cannot agree.
The divorce petition ends with a statement of truth that needs to be signed and dated. This means that if a false statement is made, proceedings for contempt of Court may be brought against a person who made this statement.
Although this all seems straightforward, there is lots to consider when getting a divorce. Using a specialist Divorce Solicitor will mean that you get the best possible outcome so contact us below for an initial discussion.
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