Filing for divorce: what paperwork do I need?

Deciding to petition for divorce can often feel overwhelming – as well as the emotions a decision to end a marriage can bring up, the fears of not knowing how to move forward, how much things will cost and what paperwork you might need can make it harder than it needs to be.

While there are quite a few forms to be filled out, often these can be dealt with directly by your solicitor, and in many straightforward cases, where you agree to the divorce as a couple, the paperwork isn’t complicated.

Knowing which paperwork and documents you need to hand when filing for divorce will make the process move more smoothly.

What paperwork do I need when petitioning for a divorce?

The information needed for a divorce petition form is minimal.

Most importantly, you’ll need your marriage certificate. There are a few instances where you can apply without your marriage certificate, but you’ll have to fill out another form (D11) and pay a fee.

If you don’t have your marriage certificate, you can request a copy from a register office. This can be done online and costs £9.25. If you're sending a copy, make sure it's a certified copy, not simply a photocopy, as this won’t be accepted.

If your marriage certificate is in another language, you’ll have to include a certified translation.

You will have to include your spouse’s current address on the form, so they can be sent a copy of the petition to agree to, or contest. It could be sent to a home or work address.

If you don’t know where your spouse is, you can fill out other forms to have the petition sent by email, or if they can't be located, to miss out that part of the process. Each of these will have a fee attached.

If you're petitioning under difficult circumstances and you don't want your spouse to know where you’re living, you can fill out a C8 form. This will stop your address from being revealed to your spouse.

Don’t forget you’ll need to send three copies of the petition form, along with a payment for the process.

If you have disagreed with your partner about finances and need a Financial Order, this will be Form A and will be included with your petition – there is a fee and this will slow the divorce down, as it can't be moved forward until the order is agreed.

What paperwork do I need when responding to a divorce petition?

If your spouse has sent you a divorce petition, and you agree, you simply have to sign the acknowledgement of service form and post it to the courts. You don't need to include any paperwork. You will need to post the form within 8 days of receiving it.

If you disagree with the terms or don’t want to divorce, you still fill out the same form but use the section where you're defending against divorce. You will have to post this within 8 days, as well as post an answer to the divorce petition form, explaining your reasoning. This must be posted within 21 days and will cost £245.

What paperwork do I need when applying for a decree nisi?

A decree nisi is the confirmation from the courts that they see no reason why you can’t get divorced.

You fill out an application form for a decree nisi, and fill out a statement form based on the reason for divorce you have given (unreasonable behaviour/adultery etc). You will also need to attach your spouse’s response to the petition. If your spouse is contesting the divorce, you can fill out section B of the form, and ask for a ‘case management hearing’. This will cost £50.

What paperwork do I need when applying for a decree absolute?

A decree absolute is the final piece of paperwork and signals the dissolution of your marriage. You must wait six weeks from receiving the decree nisi before you can apply for a decree absolute.

Once the six weeks has passed, you simply fill out a final paper requesting a decree absolute. The court will check it against your paperwork and, provided no reasons come to light that prevent the divorce, you’ll receive the decree absolute by post.

Speak to a divorce solicitor

While petitioning for divorce can seem complicated, there isn't as much paperwork as you might think.

But it’s essential you keep copies of your divorce paperwork safe, and any official documents kept together.

A divorce solicitor will be able to keep you up to date on any changes to the process, or any further forms you might have to fill in (for example, if your spouse is contesting and you need to go to court).

Be aware of all the different charges that may apply when paperwork has to be resubmitted or questioned, so take care when filling out the forms.

Petitioning for divorce can feel like a slow process, but a good solicitor will ensure that everything is moving through at the appropriate pace and make it as painless as possible.

At The Law Superstore, you can compare divorce solicitors near you - completely free.

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Adam Rivers

Adam creates supportive, easy to read guides for The Law Superstore. He specialises in family law, helping people through divorce, child custody arrangements, and other relationship issues.

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