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What is the divorce process?

A step by step description of the divorce process with practical tips and set of documents for use when divorcing

The first step in a divorce process is to complete a 'divorce petition' referred to as a 'Divorce/judicial separation petition (Form D8)' and send it to the Regional Divorce Centre (DC) for your area. You must have been married for at least one year before you may ask the court for a divorce.

When the court receives your divorce petition it will send a copy to your spouse, together with an 'Acknowledgement of service (Form D10)', which your spouse will have to complete and return within seven business days.

Start your Divorce Petition now

If your spouse does not defend the divorce (i.e. agrees that you may get it), the next step in the divorce process is to apply for a 'decree nisi'.

To apply for a decree nisi, you will need to complete an 'Application for a decree nisi (Form D84)', together with a 'Statement in support of divorce' confirming the reasons why you want a divorce. There are five different statements in support of divorce and you will need to complete the one relating to the reason for your divorce. The statements are as follows:

  • Statement in support of divorce - adultery (Form D80A)
  • Statement in support of divorce - unreasonable behaviour (Form D80B)
  • Statement in support of divorce - desertion (Form D80C)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 2 years' consent (Form D80D)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 5 years' separation (Form D80E)

If the court is satisfied that there are grounds for divorce, it will send you and your spouse a 'Certificate of entitlement to a decree,' which will tell you the date and time when the judge will grant your decree nisi.

After decree nisi the court will, on your application, consider any financial issues between you and your spouse. If there are no outstanding financial issues between you, you will be ready to take the last step in the divorce process.

The final step is to get your 'decree absolute'. This officially brings the marriage to an end. To apply for a decree absolute, you will need to fill out a 'Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute (Form D36)' and send it to the court six weeks after the date that your decree nisi was pronounced.

The information on this page applies to England and Wales only.

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