Background information

Background information

Contents

Divorce is the ending of a marriage on the ground that it has irretrievably broken down. Dissolution is the same, but for a civil partnership.

When can you get a divorce or dissolution?

You may only apply for a divorce or dissolution after you have been married or in a civil partnership for at least one year.

Mediation

If there are going to be financial or children issues to sort out as a result of the divorce or dissolution, you should try and agree these issues with your spouse or partner. If you can't agree, you will be required, with few exceptions, to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), before you can apply for any financial order or a Child Arrangements Order.

The MIAM is intended to help you consider whether mediation might be suitable in your circumstances to resolve the issues. Mediation is where qualified mediators help you both to reach your own agreement. A mediator does not tell you what to agree on. You are free to negotiate without the fear that it might count against you later.

Courts that can hear divorces and civil partnership dissolutions

You will start your divorce or civil partnership dissolution by lodging a Form D8 with the court. You can find the court by searching the online court and tribunal finder. Once on the website, under 'About your issue', click to select either 'Divorce' or 'Civil Partnership' as the case may be, and then enter your postcode when asked to do so. This will indicate where you can issue your paper divorce or civil partnership dissolution application form.

Her Majesty's Court and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has developed a digital application system with the intention that the application process will eventually be 'digital-by-default' as all paper applications will be scanned into the digital application system by court staff. You can already do a divorce (but not a civil partnership dissolution) application online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce.

As HMCTS rolls out this digital process they are gradually closing all the Regional Divorce Centres, with the one at Bury St Edmunds being planned to stay operational the longest to deal with the remaining legacy paper applications.

The court will decide and advise you where the hearing will take place, if that becomes necessary, and what level of judge will hear the application.

If you want to apply for a financial order you will use a Form A to start your application. You will need to send the completed Form A to the same court where you sent your divorce application. If you know that the financial application will be contested, HMRCS prefers you to apply directly to the Financial Remedy Court (FRC) for your area. However, until FRCs have been established countrywide this is not essential, and you can simply use the same court that is dealing with your divorce.

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