How to Apply for a Divorce Online - Family Law Partners

How to Apply for a Divorce Online

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How to Apply for a Divorce Online

Many aspects of our lives have transitioned to the online realm, and divorce proceedings are no exception. In England and Wales couples may now use a court web portal for applying for divorce online which is intended to be user friendly and allow couples to make the application directly if they choose to do so. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive step-by-step walkthrough of the online divorce application, to help you navigate the process.

Step 1: Meet the Requirements

To apply for divorce online, you must meet the eligibility criteria:

  • Your marriage has lasted for at least one year.
  • Your marriage has broken down irretrievably.
  • You and your partner meet the jurisdiction requirements for proceeding with a divorce in England and Wales, see here for more information regarding jurisdiction.

Step 2: Gather the necessary information

Before you start you will need to have the following information and documents to hand:

  • Full names, dates of birth and addresses of both you and your partner.
  • A scanned full colour copy of your original marriage certificate showing all four corners or a certified copy.
  • A certified translation of your marriage certificate, if it is not in English.
  • Proof of any name change if you have changed it since your marriage, for example, by deed poll (this only applies if you have changed from your maiden name or your married name to another name).

Step 3: Decide how you wish to proceed

When applying for divorce, you can either make a joint or sole application. The main difference between the two is the terminology and the initial process of submitting the application. A joint application refers to Applicant 1 and Applicant 2. A sole application refers to an Applicant and Respondent.  A joint application requires you both to complete the initial form, and a sole application requires just the Applicant to complete the initial form.

If you opt for a sole application, you will complete the full application and it will then be sent to your spouse for them to confirm that they have received the application and they do not dispute it.  The ability to dispute the application is based on very limited grounds and only applies if your marriage could be invalid or the courts of England and Wales do not have jurisdiction.

If you opt for a joint application, you will complete the first half of the application with your information and this is then sent to your spouse for them to complete the second part with their information.  You are then both sent the complete application which you must each confirm is agreed before submitting.

If you and your spouse have discussed the divorce and are in agreement, it may be preferable to talk through the two options and decide together which one works better for you before making the application so you each know what to expect.

Step 4: Access the online service and submit your application

Visit the MyHMCTS Divorce Portal and create an account and sign in using your email address and password. Once you have logged in you can then begin to draft your divorce application.

Part of the application asks you to provide the names on the marriage certificate and the place of the marriage. It is important to provide these details exactly as they appear on the marriage certificate. If one part of a name is written in capital letters, for example, you must provide this in capital letters also.

Once the application is completed and ready to submit you will also need to pay the court fee of £593.  This is paid online by the applicant in a sole application or applicant 1 in a joint application.

Step 5: Wait for 20 weeks

Once you have submitted your application, you will then receive notification from the court (usually via email) that the application has been issued.

At this stage, if you opted for a sole application, your spouse will be served with and asked to respond to the application, this is known as the ‘acknowledgement of service.’  If you opted for the joint appointment, you will both be served with the application and asked to respond.

Once the application has been issued, a 20 week waiting period commences from the date of issue, and this period must pass before you may progress to the next stage in the divorce. This time allows for you and your spouse to reflect on your decision to divorce and it can also be a useful time to come to a financial agreement.

Step 4: Apply for the Conditional Order

Once the 20 week waiting period has lapsed, you will receive notification from the court and be invited to make an application for the Conditional Order in your divorce. This is an important stage of the divorce process as it means that the Court has the ability to make a financial order in your matter. However, it does not mean that the divorce is finalised and you will remain married at this stage.

All you will need to do is log back into your account and confirm that you wish to apply for Conditional Order before submitting your application. If you made a sole application, only the Applicant will need to take this step.  If you made a joint application, both you and your spouse will need to log on to apply for the Conditional Order.  If one or other of you decides at this stage that you want to proceed but the other person doesn’t, you can still make the application for a Conditional Order on your own but you will need to give the other person 14 days’ notice.

Once the application has been made, the Court will then review this, which can take several weeks, before granting your Conditional Order which you will be notified of online. Once approved by a Judge, you will then need to wait a further 6 weeks before you can progress to the final stage.

Step 5: Apply for the Final Order

At the end of the second waiting period, you will receive notification from the court that you may now apply for your Final Order. As with the Conditional Order, you can do this on a sole or joint basis.  If you have completed all previous steps jointly but wish to make the application for the Final Order on solely, you will need to give the other person 14 days’ notice of your intention to do so.

It may be advisable not to apply for the final order until you have come to a financial agreement with your spouse and submitted a financial consent order to the court which has been approved by a Judge. If you are not sure about this, it is sensible to speak to an experienced solicitor about your specific circumstances to better understand whether it is appropriate to finalise the divorce immediately or wait until your finances are resolved.

Once you have applied for the Final Order, your application will be considered by a Judge, and once approved, your divorce will be finalised and your marriage dissolved.

Applying for divorce online is a relatively streamlined and stress-free process. By understanding the eligibility requirements, gathering the necessary information, and following the step-by-step online application process, you can navigate the journey toward divorce with clarity and confidence. Remember that while the online process can simplify the administrative aspects, the right legal advice is extremely important, especially in coming to a financial agreement or if your case involves other complexities such as Child Arrangements. Contact our experienced Solicitors to discuss your own individual situation.



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