As more and more people are now applying online to get divorced, here are some tips about starting proceedings digitally without danger:

  • If you are completing the form online, you will be the Petitioner. Your partner/ spouse will be the Respondent. The Form D8, or Petition, commences the divorce or civil partnership dissolution process.
  • Ensure you provide your original marriage certificate or certified copy (or translation).
  • At Section 2 and 3 –if the Petitioner’s/ Respondent’s name is not their married name or name on the marriage certificate, an explanation is required or a Change of Name Deed. As this document is served on your partner/ spouse, you should not include your address if you wish it to remain confidential. You can use a business address if you wish.
  • At Section 4, names, date and place of marriage must be copied exactlyfrom the marriage certificate, or the Petition will be returned. This means a woman’s maiden name should be used in this section.
  • At Section 5, proceedings can only start in this country if the English Court has jurisdiction to deal with proceedings, the most common criteria being that both parties are habitually resident in England and Wales. You must tick the box or boxes that apply to your situation.
  • Section 6 contains the grounds for divorce or dissolution. You must choose one of 5 facts, the most common being adultery, unreasonable behaviour or two years’ separation. Adultery can only be relied upon by a Petitioner spouse who has committed adultery with a member of the opposite sex. Details of the fact must be provided in Section 7.
  • Section 8 asks for the name of the other party in adultery cases but it is not accepted practice to complete this section. 
  • At Section 10, you should tick the boxes applying for a financial order even if you do notconsider you will make any application in the future. This may help to avoid financial difficulties in the future, including on remarriage.
  • If there are children of family, you should tick the box applying for a financial order for children. Please note the Court will not always have jurisdiction to deal with maintenance for children in any event.
  • Section 11 confirms that you are applying for a divorce or dissolution. The reference to costs here relates only to the costs of the divorce and not to any other application (including financial remedy proceedings). Costs of the divorce can be between £600 to £1200 plus VAT (plus the Court fee of £550). It is usual for these costs to be shared or, if the Petitioner is able, for him or her to pay them. Inserting a claim for costs should be considered carefully as it can add to acrimony.
  • Make sure you sign the statement of truth.

Whilst divorce online can be speedy and inexpensive, financial implications can result from the process. If you are a litigant in person, the above tips are only a guide, and we recommend you take legal advice.