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How do you apply for a divorce?

When a marriage breaks down, it can be an extremely stressful time for a couple and especially for any children involved. So, how do you apply for a divorce and what do you need to know? It’s important to seek the right advice early on, so you know what to expect and how to manage your affairs accordingly. We look at the process to help you understand what’s involved, so you can prepare from both a practical and an emotional perspective.

No Fault Divorce

In April 2022, the new “no-fault divorce” rules came into force, which has made it easier to obtain a divorce. The aim is to reduce the level of confrontation involved in a marriage breakup and to lessen the impact on children. The new legislation will also help people to escape from abusive marriages, as a partner can no longer contest a divorce.

You no longer need evidence to prove that a marriage has broken down irreconcilably. Once a statement has been made, the decision to divorce can no longer be disputed. For more information on the changes to divorce rules, please read our previous blog, What are the new divorce rules?

What is the divorce process?

You can apply for a divorce if you have been married for at least one year and your relationship has broken down permanently. Your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK. If you are in a civil partnership, you will also need to have been in the partnership for at least one year. The process for ending a civil partnership is slightly different to a divorce, so please speak to our family law team for advice.

Below are some of the key questions you will need to answer when applying for a divorce:

  • Do you want to apply for a joint application with your partner or a sole application on your own? If you are at risk of abuse or you do not feel your spouse will cooperate, then a sole application might be the best option.

  • Do you have any children and, if so, have you discussed child arrangements? You will need to decide where a child will live and with whom, including financial maintenance. See our blog, How does a Child Arrangement Order work?

  • Do you have a plan for dividing up any shared property and money? A financial agreement will help you to decide how to divide your home, savings, investments and pensions, if applicable. You might be entitled to a share of your partner’s finances.

What do I need to apply for a divorce?

You will need your original marriage certificate or a certified copy, along with you and your spouse’s full name and a current address. If you are no longer living together, then you will need to supply an address for each person. You can either apply online or complete the Form D8 and apply by post. It’s advisable to seek legal advice on divorce before applying.

You can provide an email address for the divorce papers to be sent to you, otherwise, these will be sent to your postal address. The current fee to apply for a divorce is £593, and the way you would pay this varies on how you apply for the divorce. Once your divorce application has been issued, this fee cannot be refunded.

How long will my divorce take?

At the time of writing, divorce applications are taking longer than usual to complete due to court backlogs, but on average the process should take around 26 weeks. There is now a 20-week cooling off period, which gives married couples the chance to call off the divorce if they change their minds. This period of time, known as a “meaningful period of reflection”, will also help you to put in place any child arrangements and financial agreements.

If you are going through a relationship breakdown, always get advice from an professional family solicitor. Whether you are married or in a civil partnership, our expert team will explain the relevant process and offer sympathetic and caring advice at every stage. We will advise you on any child arrangements and financial agreements, helping you to minimise any stress and worry. It’s always our aim to ensure our clients reach as amicable an agreement as possible. Our team realise this is an emotionally challenging time for everyone involved.

If you need advice on divorce or an annulment of a civil partnership, please get in touch or email: to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.


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