Application for a Divorce

You can apply for a divorce if you have been married for more than a year and can show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. Currently this is done by proving one of five facts – adultery, behaviour, desertion, 2 years separation with consent, or 5 years separation.

All the forms that you will need to start the divorce are referred to below, and  can be accessed via  the links or requested direct from the Family Court.

Alternatively, you can apply online. The link can be found here:  There  are online prompts to assist users through the process.  There is also face to face assisted digital support available through Good Things Foundation to help you complete the forms.

If you cannot access the online platform, or prefer to lodge paper forms at Court, this guide will assist you through the steps that need to be taken.  If you want to end a civil partnership you must use the paper process and apply by post.

Apply for a Divorce

  1. Download (and read) the application form (D8) and Notes for Guidance
  2. Complete the form – if you need help completing the form, seek legal advice from a Resolution member or from the CAB or a local law centre
  3. Take 2 copies of the completed form and one for yourself if you would like one for your records.
  4. If you do not have your original marriage certificate, obtain a duplicate. If you married in England & Wales you can do this via
  5. If you married abroad and your original marriage certificate is in another language, you will need a certified translation of your certificate
  6. Send the completed form, 2 copies, the marriage certificate (and translation if appropriate) to a Divorce Centre. You can find  the address of the nearest Divorce Centre to your postcode here:  You will also need to deal with payment of the court fee of £550. You can send  a cheque  or postal order made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service with your completed D8  or provide your daytime telephone number clearly, in your covering letter, in order for the Court to contact you to take a card payment.  You may be able to get help paying the Court fee if you are on a low income. More details can be found in form EX160A which you can find here:

Next Steps

The Court will issue the proceedings, allocate a case number and then write to you confirming the date your application was sent to your spouse,  the date when your spouse should respond by returning their acknowledgement of service to the Court.  The Court Service have provided a helpful diagram showing the procedure from issue of the divorce petition through to decree absolute.

Where am I in the divorce process?

Financial settlement

The divorce is the legal process to end the marriage.  It does not address the financial claims that arise for both parties as a result of the marriage  which  will need to be dealt with separately.

The financial settlement covers all financial issues , including how capital and any pension should be divided; how liabilities should be met  and whether any maintenance needs to be paid.

It is advisable to have the financial settlement you reach set out in a  Court Order so that it is binding and can be enforced in the event of future dispute.  If you are able to reach an agreement this is known as an Order by consent (or a Consent Order).  The Consent Order will need court approval to be binding and can first be submitted when you have reached Decree Nisi stage of the divorce proceedings.

If you are unsure about  how to approach  the financial issues, you should take legal advice from a family lawyer, ideally one who is a Resolution member.