Call our National Helpline on 0300 0300 363
(open 7am - midnight, 7 days a week)
The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity
Getting a Divorce
To be able to file for divorce you and your partner must:
• Have been married for at least a year;
• Have a marriage legally recognised by the UK;
• Show the relationship has irretrievably broken down;
• Meet specific rules about how long you have lived in the country.
The four stages of getting a divorce:
1. Deciding reasons for divorce
You need to prove why the marriage should end. It will speed up the divorce process if can both agree on the reasons to use.
‘Facts or ‘grounds’ that can be used within divorce proceedings are:
• Unreasonable behaviour;
• Desertion (more than 2 years);
• Living separately for at least 2 years, in agreement;
• Living separately for at least 5 years, agreement not necessary.
For more information on grounds for divorce please click here.
2. Filing a divorce petition
A ‘divorce petition’ needs to be sent to court, also known as a D8 form. The fee is £340. You must also send your marriage certificate. Click here to find out how to get a copy of your marriage certificate (photocopies will not be accepted).
If you have children who are under 16 (or under 18 in education) you will also need to fill in a ‘statement of arrangements for children’ form – a D8A form.
If false allegations have been made against you in the D8 form it is important to counter them as they could affect future contact with your children or lead to costs being awarded against you.
For more information on how to file for divorce, please click here.
3. Applying for a ‘decree nisi’
Once a divorce petition has been sent to court and if your spouse has told the court they agree, the next stage is to apply for a ‘decree nisi’. This is a document that states the courts do not have a reason why you should not divorce.
If a judge agrees with your application you will both be sent a certificate of entitlement to a decree. If the judge does not agree that you can divorce you will both be written to explaining why. You may have to provide more information or have a formal court hearing.
For more information on getting a ‘decree’ nisi, please click here.
4. Getting a ‘decree absolute’
When you have received a ‘decree nisi’ you can apply for a ‘decree absolute’, to end the marriage. If you started the divorce you must wait six weeks and one day after the ‘decree nisi’ was issued to apply for a ‘decree absolute’. You will need to return the ‘notice of application for divorce nisi to be made absolute’ form – D36 to the court. The fee is £45.
If you did not start the divorce you can still apply for a ‘decree absolute’ but you must wait an extra three months, on top of the six weeks and one day. You will have to fill in a D11 form and pay a £90 court fee.
To find out more information about getting a ‘decree absolute’ please click here.
5. Completing the divorce
Once the court has received these forms they will check that arrangements for children are satisfactory (if applicable), the time limits have been met and that there are no other reasons not to grant the divorce. If the court is happy you will both be sent form D37 – ‘decree absolute’ – meaning the marriage is legally over.
For more information on how the divorce process works, please click here.
You may wish to consider purchasing a ‘Divorce in a Box’ pack, which offers emotion, legal and financial advice and support and can help guide you through the divorce process.
Divorcing without Solicitors
A divorce with minimal or no conflict will be in the best interest of any children involved and will save you time and money. If you can agree on: the reasons for divorce; how you will look after your children; and how to divide money, property and possessions then it may be possible for you to arrange your own divorce without involving solicitors.
If you are not sure about any of these things you can first consult a mediator; an independent person who can help you reach an agreement. Mediators do not act as marriage counsellors; they can help guide you through decisions the need to be made, post-separation. To find a family mediator near you please click here. Mediators are usually cheaper than solicitors and if you qualify for legal aid might be free. To find out whether you are eligible for legal aid, please click here.
An agreement made using a family mediator is not legally binding, however, if you wish to make the agreement legally binding you can use it to apply to the court for a ‘consent order’. The court will then consider whether to approve it.
For more information on divorcing without using solicitors please click here.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
Before going to court to settle disputes over money, property and/or children’s arrangements you must usually first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings. At this meeting you will be able to work out whether mediation is appropriate for you and have any questions you have answered.
You can attend the mediation session alone or with your spouse. After the meeting, if it is decided that mediation is a suitable way to reach an agreement mediation sessions can start.
Costs vary for mediation, but if you qualify for legal aid you may be able to get reduced rates. To find out whether you qualify for legal aid please click here. For more information about mediation please click here.
Children and Divorce
Resolution have produced a very helpful booklet on how parents can ease the process of divorce for their children, including tips on talking to your children about divorce, available online here.
It is much better if you can arrange care arrangements for your children without going to court. It may be very helpful to put together a Parenting Plan so you can agree on day to day care for your children. Much more information can be found on Parenting Plans on the CAFCASS guide, which you can find here. You can also find more information on Parenting Plans on our website here.
To read about the benefits of maintaining an amicable relationship with your child’s other parent, please click here.
If you cannot reach an agreement over your children’s care there are different court orders you can apply for, including contact and residence orders. To make a court order you need to fill out form C100 and send it to a court that deals with family matters.
Last updated September 2012.