The online divorce process
Check you are eligible to divorce
The first thing you will need to do is to make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria to be able to get a divorce. The criteria are as follows:
- you have been married for at least one year,
- your marriage is legally recognised in the UK, and
- it has irretrievably broken down.
Agree on issues relating to children, finances, and your home
Before you start the online divorce process we recommend that you try to reach an agreement in relation to your children and your financial assets. If you are able to you should try to talk through the practical day to day arrangements for your children such as where they will spend their time, who with and when, as well as financial arrangements for their care. Having agreed arrangements in place can help children to adjust to their new circumstances, giving them routine and consistency on which they thrive. It is important when making these decisions that you consider what is in their best interests and best for their happiness.
If you are unable to come to an agreement you may need professional support. A mediator can help and support you to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all involved parties, this may involve including your children in these conversations. Applying to the court should be used as a last resort if mediation proves to be unsuccessful.
Dividing financial assets can also lead to disputes in what may have otherwise been an amicable separation. You need to agree how to split things such as property, cars, investments, pensions and other assets. Again, it may be useful to involve a mediator to reach an agreement, otherwise a solicitor can negotiate a settlement. Once an agreement is reached it is highly advised that you make a financial settlement order to make the agreement legally binding. This will give you certainty and security in the future. A clean break financial settlement order ensures that your financial affairs are completely severed from the other in the future and on death and any future claims to your finances by your ex-partner will be dismissed. Without this order your ex-spouse could make a financial claim at any time in the future which can sometimes arise years after separation and divorce.
If you are unable to agree on how to divide your financial assets and mediation was unsuccessful or inappropriate you can apply to the court to help where a judge will take into account what is fair and reasonable.
Starting the online divorce process
To begin your online divorce application, you will need the following pieces of information:
- Full names and addresses
- Contact telephone numbers
- Email addresses
- Original marriage certificate or a certified copy (and a certified translation if it is not in English)
- Proof of any name change if changed since the marriage.
You will be required to pay a fee of £593* on sending the application to court. You will need to do this by credit or debit card for online applications. If you are in receipt of benefits or on a low income you may be exempt from paying some or all of the fee but will need to complete a EX160 form which can be found online.
You will be asked to create a secure login and then directed through the online process step by step.
After you apply for your online divorce
Your application details will be checked and if they are found to be accurate the court will send out:
- notice that your application has been issued,
- a copy of your application,
- an acknowledgement receipt (joint applicants only), and
- a case number.
Joint applicants must complete all the documents together so there needs to be co-operation throughout the case.
Once a joint application has been processed by the court there is a minimum waiting period of 20 weeks before a joint application can be made for a conditional order (previously decree nisi). Once the conditional order is granted there is a further waiting period of a minimum of six weeks before you can make an application for the final order (previously decree absolute). The final order will be sent out by the court once granted.
Given the length of the process it is possible that during that time joint applicants may find themselves in disagreement about the divorce or the agreements for children and assets. If this is the case and the one of the applicants refuse to sign paperwork action will need to be taken to move things forward without their involvement.
If you are a sole applicant your ex-partner will be sent a copy of the application and details of how to respond to it. They are given a limited time to do this and if they intend to dispute it they will need to have grounds to do so.
Applying for the conditional order
You will be advised how to apply for the conditional order but you will have to wait for the appropriate date before you can. The court will tell you when this is. On receiving the application, the court will look at it along with your partners response. It must be satisfied that you have the grounds for divorce and that all the documents are accurate. You will then receive a notice confirming that you are entitled to a divorce and the date when the conditional order will be made which will be sent to you once granted with information about the next steps.
Applying for the final order
You will be able to apply for the final order six weeks after the conditional order is granted. 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 that you need to keep safe as you may be required to produce it from time to time as evidence of your divorce.
Our family law team have many years of experience advising and representing people in divorce proceedings. If you are separating from your partner and wish to begin the divorce process call us today on 0161 696 6193 or complete our online enquiry form.
You can download our detailed guide to online divorce here.
*prices correct as of June 2022