Making the decision to file for divorce isn’t easy, especially if there are children involved, or you have lots of shared assets. As well as the emotional upheaval, you may be feeling worried about the practical steps involved when filing for divorce.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by legal jargon or worry that the procedure will be complicated, but the process of filing for divorce can be straightforward. If you’ve made the decision to file for divorce and want to know how to get started, read on for our handy guide.
Check you are eligible for divorce
There are certain conditions that have to be met before you are eligible for divorce in England and Wales. You’ll need to have been married for over a year, have your marriage legally recognised in the UK, and at least one partner must have the UK as their permanent home.
You’ll also need to provide grounds for divorce. This is seen as evidence that your marriage has irrevocably broken down and can include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or if you’ve been separated for at least two years.
How to apply
It’s easier if both parties agree to a divorce, but you can still file in some circumstances without the support of your husband or wife. To apply, you’ll need your husband or wife’s full name and address, your original marriage certificate (or a certified copy) and proof of your name change if you’ve changed it since you got married.
You can apply online through the government website here, and you’ll need to pay a fee of £550. Those on low incomes may be eligible for financial help.
What happens next?
Your application will be checked, and you’ll receive a notice that your application has been sent out, a case number and a copy of the application. Your husband or wife will also be sent a copy of the application and an acknowledgement of service form. This will ask whether they agree to the divorce or want to contest it, and they must respond within eight days.
If they agree, you can apply for a decree nisi, if they contest, the process is more complicated, but you can seek help and advice from a legal professional.