Divorce or dissolution orders

Divorce or dissolution orders

Contents

Steps to get a divorce or dissolution order (undefended procedure)

The undefended procedure applies when the 2 of you agree on getting a divorce or dissolution.

Issue your application

To start the process you will need to take or send the following to court:

1. 3 copies (plus an extra one if there is a co-respondent) of your completed Form D8 – 'Divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation' petition

2. An official copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate

3. The court fees

Form D8 – 'the Petition'

This is the document that you need to complete and file at court to start your divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings. You may only issue the petition if you have been married or in a registered civil partnership for at least one year.

With Form D8, you'll include details about:

  • You
  • Your marriage or civil partnership
  • Why the court has jurisdiction to hear your case
  • Any children of the family (simply for statistical purposes)
  • The fact you are using
  • Any other court proceedings between you and your spouse or civil partner
  • Your claims

Marriage or civil partnership certificate copy

The court will keep this. If you do not have a copy, you can get one from the General Register Office (a fee will be payable). For information visit the Gov.uk website.

The court fees

Download Leaflet EX50: Civil and Family Court Fees from the HMCTS website to see the current fees.

If you cannot afford the court fee, you may be entitled to a discount or an exemption from paying the fee. For more information see Form EX160A: Court fees – Do I have to pay them? on the HMCTS website.

Notice of issue of petition

After receiving the petition from you, the Designated Family Centre (DFC) will send you Form DH9 – 'Notice of issue of petition'. This is a receipt for your fee (if you have paid one). The form will tell you when the petition was sent to your spouse or civil partner, what to do if they do not reply to it, and what your case number is.

The court serves the petition and an acknowledgement of service form on your spouse or civil partner, who then has 7 business days to return the form to court, indicating whether they intend defending the application. Upon receipt the court will then send you a copy.

Apply for decree nisi or conditional order

This is the first stage of obtaining a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.

You can apply for a decree nisi (divorces) or conditional order (civil partnerships) once the petition has been served and one of the following is true:

  • Your spouse or civil partner has returned the acknowledgement of service indicating that they do not wish to defend the petition and the 7 business days allowed for returning it have passed;
  • No acknowledgement of service has been returned and the 7 business days allowed for returning it have passed, or;
  • Your spouse or civil partner has returned the acknowledgement of service indicating that they wish to defend the petition, but they have failed to file their answer to the petition in the 28 days (since receipt of the petition) in which they are allowed to do so.

You will apply for your decree nisi or conditional order by completing and filing the following at court:

1. Form D84 – 'Application for a decree nisi/conditional order or (judicial) separation decree/order'; and

2. One of the following 'Statements in support' depending on the fact you have chosen for your divorce or dissolution in the petition.

  • Form D80A – 'Statement in support of divorce/(judicial) separation – adultery' (only for spouses)
  • Form D80B – 'Statement in support of divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation - unreasonable behaviour'
  • Form D80C – 'Statement in support of divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation – desertion'
  • Form D80D – 'Statement in support of divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation – 2 years' consent'
  • Form D80E – 'Statement in support of divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation – 5 years' separation'

The court will then send you and your spouse or civil partner a certificate of entitlement to a final decree or order, and you will not need to go to court. If, however, the court says you cannot have a divorce or dissolution, you may be asked to provide more information or attend court.

Once you have obtained the decree nisi or conditional order, you can apply for the 'decree absolute' or 'final order'.

Apply for decree absolute or final order

You can apply for the decree absolute or final order from 6 weeks after the decree nisi or conditional order is granted. If you, as the petitioner, do not apply within 3 months after this initial 6 weeks then your spouse or civil partner can do so.

To apply you will need to complete and file Form D36 – 'Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute or conditional order to be made final'.

The court will check if there is any reason why your decree nisi or conditional order cannot be made final/absolute. If everything is acceptable, the court will send you and your spouse or civil partner Form D37 –'Decree absolute/final order'.

The court will only deal with an application for a financial order once the decree nisi or conditional order has been obtained. See Financial orders for more information.

Steps to get a divorce or dissolution (defended procedure)

The defended procedure applies when the 2 of you do not agree about getting a divorce or dissolution.

Issue your application

To issue an application in these circumstances, you need to send or take the following documents to court:

1. 3 copies (plus an extra one if there is a co-respondent) of your completed Form D8 – 'Divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation' petition

2. An official copy of your marriage certificate/civil partnership certificate

3. The court fees

For more information on these documents, see above where the undefended procedure is discussed.

Next steps in a defended divorce or civil partnership dissolution

If your spouse or civil partner wants to defend the petition, this will be indicated on the returned 'Acknowledgement of service form'. They will also need to respond to the contents of the petition, within 28 days of receiving it, by completing and filing Form D8B – 'Answer to a divorce/dissolution/(judicial) separation or nullity petition'.

An application for a case-management hearing will need to be made so that the court can decide how to proceed with the matter.

Contested divorces are very rare so you may want to seek legal advice as it will result in a court hearing.

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