How to file for a divorce without a lawyer in the UK
Married couples and civil partners come under immense pressure from the demands of life. Couples need to juggle children and family, work, home and money difficulties. People also grow and change throughout their lives and it is therefore not surprising that many relationships do not always survive the strain.
This guide is designed for anyone looking to take divorce proceedings without using a solicitor. This guide can also be used by anyone looking to end a civil partnership as the process of ending a civil partnership is very similar to that of divorce.
If you are planning to "go it alone” do not be tempted by websites that offer "quickie divorces”. The "quickie divorce" companies do not get any special treatment and they join the same queue that everyone else joins. All divorce cases are dealt with in the order of priority in which the applications at any stage of the divorce or civil partnership dissolution are submitted to the court.
Be careful also of websites that offer to complete your divorce proceedings for a very modest fee. Quite often they add little value and charge extra for any complications that may arise in the divorce process.
You can now apply for a divorce online and we recommend that you bypass the various websites referred to above and go straight to the government website "Get a divorce-GOV.UK”.
If you wish to end a civil partnership then go to the government website “Ending a Civil Partnership-GOV.UK”.
You can still make the above applications to the court by completing the necessary forms by hand rather than on line and then sending the paper forms directly to the court but you will find that an online application will be processed much more quickly and efficiently. If you would prefer to make a paper application you can download and print out those forms from the following link.
Before commencing your divorce proceedings or applying to end your civil partnership you will need to find your original marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate. You will be asked to upload this document when completing your first document online known as a divorce petition if you are married or a dissolution application if you are in a civil partnership.
The divorce or dissolution process starts when you submit your petition to the court and pay the court fee currently £550. You are the Petitioner. Your wife, husband or civil partner is the Respondent.
You will find detailed guidance on the government website on completing the forms required to commence your divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings and to then apply for your decree nisi or conditional order and finally your decree absolute or final order.
Here is what you need to know:
You cannot get divorced or end your civil partnership within the first year of your marriage or civil partnership.
You must have grounds for ending your divorce or civil partnership.
In the case of a marriage the grounds for a divorce are as follows:
Adultery– note that your husband or wife cannot commit adultery by having sexual intercourse with somebody who is the same sex as they are
Unreasonable behaviour – you will need to demonstrate that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her
Desertion – you can use this ground if your husband or wife has left you for at least two years Separation for two years – you will need the consent of your husband or wife to take divorce proceedings on this particular ground
Separation for five years – you do not need the consent of your husband or wife to apply for a divorce if you have lived separate and apart for five years or more.
The grounds for the dissolution of a civil partnership are the same as the grounds for a divorce referred to above except that you cannot end a civil partnership on the grounds of adultery.
Of course "going it alone" is not for everyone particularly if the breakdown of your marriage or civil partnership has been acrimonious. If you find the prospect of making your own application to the court for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership just too daunting or you simply cannot face dealing with what is often a difficult and painful life event on a DIY basis, you are not alone.
The experienced Family Law team at Branch Austin are here to help you and guide you through not only the divorce or the ending of the civil partnership process but also with any fallout from such relationship breakdown. We can advise and assist you on any issues regarding the children and financial matters.
We offer a free initial consultation so that you can get to know us and we can get to know you. We listen and when we talk we promise to speak your language free of jargon and legalese.
If you need support please have a look at reaching out to our family law partner Saika Alam who is also the author of this blog post.