• 01616 966 229
  • Request a callback
Stephensons Solicitors LLP Banner Image

News and Events

How does the online divorce process work?

View profile for Emma Roberts
  • Posted
  • Author
Can I make a Will during lockdown?

With the introduction of no-fault divorce on 6th April 2022 the government launched a new digital online and paper service for those wanting to divorce. Here we will explain how the online digital divorce process works.

Online divorce applications can be started by one person as a sole applicant or by the couple together as joint applicants. They do not have to give a reason for the divorce, other than a simple statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Check the three conditions for divorce eligibility

These conditions apply for divorces in England and Wales only. They vary for divorces in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you are seeking to end a civil partnership you must also apply to court to do so. 

The conditions are:

  1. You need to have been married for at least one year
  2. Your marriage must be legally recognised in UK and,
  3. It must have irretrievably broken down.

Starting the application process online

To start you will need the following pieces of information:

  • Full names and address of both people
  • Any contact telephone numbers
  • Email addresses if you prefer communication this way. Your partner can be served papers by email if you have their email address to which only they have access to.
  • The original marriage certificate or a certified copy (and a certified translation if it’s not in English)
  • Proof of any name change if changed since the marriage – e.g.a deed poll or change of name deed.

You will need to pay a fee, currently £593, on sending the application to court. You will need a credit or debit card to make the payment if you are wanting to use the online process.

You may be eligible for help if you are on a low income or in receipt of benefits. You may be exempt from paying some or all of the fee but you will need to make an application to determine eligibility by completing a form known as a EX160. You can get this application form online or complete an online application to get a help with fees reference number.

You will be taken to a screen to start the creation of a secure login and then directed through the online process step by step.

After you apply either jointly or separately

Whether you are applying for the divorce on your own or jointly with your partner the application and details you give will be checked and if accurate and correct the court will send out:

  • a notice that your application has been issued
  • a copy of your application stamped by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service
  • an ‘acknowledge receipt’ (joint applications only) and
  • a case number.

Joint applicants must complete all the documents together. You will apply for each stage in the process together so there needs to be cooperation throughout the case.

If you are applying as a sole applicant your partner will be sent a copy of the application and information about how to respond to it. You will be told when they have been sent the paperwork. The timescales for responding will depend on whether they have received the court papers by email or by post. They are given a limited time to do this and the court will advise you of the date by which they should respond.

They should respond and either agree not to contest the divorce or confirm that they intend to dispute it but they will need to have the ground to do so.

If your partner fails to respond the court will tell you what you need to do next.

Applying for the conditional order

You will be advised how to apply for a conditional order, but you will have to wait for the appropriate date before you can, the court will tell you when this is. You will need to complete an application form online for processing. If you have applied too early the application will be rejected.

On review the court will look at the application for a divorce, your partner’s response and what you have said in the application. It must be satisfied that you have the grounds for a divorce and that the documents are correct and accurate. 

If this is the case, you will receive a notice confirming that you are entitled to a divorce and confirming the date when the conditional order will be made. There is unlikely to be any need for you to attend court on this date.

You will then be sent the conditional order once it is granted together with information about the next step.

Once the conditional order is granted you can ask the court to make a financial settlement order because on or after this date the court has power to grant one. There is no power to grant an order before the date of the conditional order.

Applying for the final order

You will be advised how to do this but you will need to wait at least six weeks from the date of the conditional order before being able to apply. If you apply too early, it will be rejected.

You are not divorced until the final order is made, only on that date does your marriage formally come to an end.

The court will send you the final order. This is an important legal document which you will need to keep safe. You may need to produce it from time to time as evidence of your divorce. If you lose or misplace it you will be able to get a further copy from the court by paying a fee and giving the divorce case number.

Just because you are divorced does not bring to an end the financial claims that you have against each other as a formally married couple.  These remain ongoing and could be brought at a later date  It is recommended that you deal with your assets and achieve a settlement so that you have a divorce along with certainty about the assets. Any delay in dividing them could prejudice the outcome as valuations can fluctuate and personal circumstances can change.

Remarriage can prevent financial claims being made if the original application for a divorce did not specify a wish to seek a financial settlement or you received the application for divorce from your partner and didn’t make a financial claim yourself. You must take legal advice before remarriage if there is no financial settlement order in place.

At Stephensons we have many divorce law specialists who are able to guide you through the divorce process whether you choose to do this online or not. To speak to a member of our team please call us on 0161 696 6193.

Related content