How To Apply for a Divorce Online

How to apply for a divorce online

In the UK, you can apply for a divorce online. You do this by providing some basic details and paying a fee to the court.

This post explains how to apply for a divorce in the UK. We run through expected timelines, how much it costs, how to make arrangements for money, property, and children and how a solicitor can help you.

Applying for a divorce in the UK

The rules concerning when you can divorce in the UK have changed recently. In April 2022, the government introduced a new “no-fault” process that doesn’t require either party to accept “blame” for the relationship breakdown. (Previously, you had to prove adultery, desertion or “unreasonable behaviour.”)

How to apply for a divorce using the government website

The government introduced an online divorce application service to the public in 2018. It’s a simple step-by-step process that reduces headaches and paperwork.

To apply, you must submit essential information to the divorce court, including your and your spouse’s full name, address, original marriage certificate or certified copy, and proof of name change, if applicable. The courts will then use this data to confirm whether you can divorce.

Each step of the process and expected timelines

Here’s a guide to each step of the divorce process and how long it will take:

Step 1: Get Support

The first step is to gather people around you who can help you through the process. Getting a divorce is never straightforward emotionally (and sometimes legally), so you want friends, family, therapists and solicitors around you to help.

Step 2: Check If You Can Divorce

The next step is to ensure you are eligible for divorce. UK law puts some roadblocks down that prevent some individuals from breaking up.

To qualify, you must be married to your spouse for over a year. (For example, you can’t get a divorce if your wedding was last month).

Your relationship must also have “permanently broken down.” This clause means you must show that your marriage can’t recover.

Finally, your marriage must be legal in the UK. If it is not, you cannot divorce under UK law.

Step 3: Make Your Financial Arrangements

The next step is to make arrangements for your money, property and children (if you have any).

Fortunately, you can avoid court hearings if you and your partner agree on where your children will live, how you will fund them, and how much time they will spend with each parent. You can also speed up the process if you agree on allocating your finances, including what share each partner gets.

Step 4: Apply For The Divorce

Once you have completed these steps, you can apply for the divorce by post or online. During this process, you should get legal advice. Solicitors can help you with problems such as the immigration status of your partner and making arrangements for children, money and property during divorce.

If there is a conflict between you and your partner, seek legal advice and mediation immediately. Professional third parties can prevent problems from worsening and represent your best interest.

Once you apply, the court will review your application. This process can take several weeks. If judges agree to the divorce, they will send you suitable documentation in the post.

Step 5: Apply For The Conditional Order

The conditional order is a new form of the decree nisi. It’s a document you receive when the court can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t divorce. Receiving it means you fulfilled the requirements set out in step 2.

Once you receive the conditional order, you must wait 43 days before finalising the divorce and ending the marriage. This delay provides time for new information to come to light that might change the outcome of the divorce case.

Step 6: Finalise The Divorce

The final step when you go from “married” to “divorced” occurs when the judge issues the final order, the replacement of the decree absolute. Once you have this document, the marriage is over.

Once you have the conditional order, you or your spouse can apply for the final order. If you apply, you must wait 43 days (as set out above). However, if your partner applies, they must wait an additional 3 months.

How much does it cost?

The current cost of applying for a divorce is £593. However, this figure doesn’t include any additional legal fees associated with your divorce.

Some people are eligible to pay less, including those on low incomes. You can also apply with your partner and split the fee between you.

The government lets you pay by debit or credit card or by cheque. If you pay by cheque, you can make it payable to “HM Courts and Tribunals Service.”

Generally, the courts require your partner to acknowledge receipt of divorce documentation, even in no-fault divorces. However, if your husband or wife lacks the “mental capacity” to complete the paperwork, they can nominate a “litigation friend,” such as a close family member, to represent them.

If no one can perform this role, you can ask the court to provide such a person. The legal system refers to this individual as a “litigation friend of last resort.”

How long does an online divorce take?

An online divorce takes between seven and eight months if both parties agree. Unfortunately, it can take longer if they don’t.

UK law says couples must observe a 20-week cooling-off period between submitting their divorce application and receiving the conditional order. A further 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) is necessary for the final order.

These waiting periods mean that you will need to wait at least seven months to get all the paperwork done, even if you are on amicable terms with your spouse.

Is an online divorce right for you?

Applying for an online divorce is a significant decision. Therefore, you’ll need to consider your circumstances carefully.

Things to consider before applying for a divorce online


First, you’ll want to consider your finances. UK family courts work from the assumption that assets should be split 50/50 between you and your partner. Circumstances can then dictate whether this distribution should change.

If you have been married for a long time or have children, the courts are more likely to probe your financial agreement. If judges believe arrangements between you and your partner are unfair to either party, they can ask you to form a new arrangement.

Children & family arrangements

You will also need to make children and family arrangements. Fortunately, you can avoid going to court if you decide where they will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. If you are struggling with this part of the process, working with a solicitor or mediator can help. 

If you can’t agree on arrangements for children, you may need to go to court. Consequently, your legal costs may rise substantially.

Sole or joint application

Whether you make a sole or joint application is another consideration. To do this, you must both agree to get a divorce, and you should not be at risk of domestic abuse. The courts will expect you to separately confirm you want to continue the divorce application at each stage of the process.

Do you need a solicitor?

Finally, you’ll want to consider whether you need a solicitor. For most people, getting legal support is often the best option, given that learning how to apply for a divorce online isn’t always straightforward.

Solicitors understand how to file a divorce online and eliminate any application errors that might cause delays. Lawyers can also guide you on your rights under the law and any financial assistance you may be entitled to receive.

Can an online divorce application be rejected?

Courts will reject online divorce applications if they fail to meet the requirements for divorce. The most common mistake is applying for divorce before you have been married for a minimum of a year. For example, some couples try to divorce after six months, which is too soon.

You may also struggle to divorce if UK law doesn’t recognise your marriage. This circumstance is rarer, but it could occur if you married in a foreign country and that entity did not certify the marriage according to local laws.

These examples show why working with a solicitor is always a good idea. Even if you haven’t been married for a year, legal professionals can arrange documentation ahead of time and submit papers to the courts at the earliest opportunity.

How our team of experienced divorce solicitors can help you

An experienced family lawyer can guide you through all key components, including who gets the house in a divorce with children.

Working with an experienced family lawyer at RLK brings many benefits when going through a divorce, such as;

  • Our experience of the laws can help you prepare a case and understand all possible outcomes.
  • We can help you focus on working towards outcomes that service your child’s best interests as well as yours.
  • Our support removes stress from the situation and takes emotional reactions out of the equation.
  • We streamline the process, allowing you to gain faster answers while focusing more energy on the children at this time.
  • Our expertise will put your mind at ease as the best financial and family outcomes will be reached.

To find out more, get in touch with our friendly advisors today.

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