Unfortunately, marriages don’t always go to plan. If you’ve tried to repair your relationship and have come to the conclusion that it’s irretrievably broken down, it might be time to consider instigating divorce proceedings.
But how do you apply for divorce, and how difficult is this process? For important information relating to online divorce in the UK, we can help.
At Freeman Jones Legal, our expert divorce solicitors have years of experience guiding clients through the divorce and separation process, so we know all the answers to the frequently asked legal questions. Below, we help you to find out how you can apply for divorce online while exploring how long this process takes and how much it’s likely to cost.
Is online divorce safe and legal in the UK?
Yes, online divorce in the UK is not only legal, but a safe route to go down if you want to end your marriage. The online divorce application process is outlined by official UK Government guidance, so you can rest assured that you’ll be submitting your application directly to where it needs to go. Despite applying online, the process, court orders and legality of the application remain the same. The divorce will still go through a court and it will still be subject to the approval of a judge.
What are the benefits of filing for divorce online?
Hailed as both the fastest and simplest way to get divorced in England and Wales, filing for divorce using the online system has many benefits. Not only does online divorce application allow your request to pass through the court as soon as possible, but statistically it’s also a safer alternative to paper filing because it reduces the risk of human error.
If you’re not confident completing applications online or are having technical issues submitting your divorce application, there is a Digital Support helpline that you can utilise. Alternatively, you can also reach out to your divorce solicitor who should be able to help you navigate any confusing legal jargon and fill in the form as accurately as possible.
How to apply for a divorce online in the UK
There are two ways that you (as the divorce petitioner) can apply for divorce online. If you applied for a divorce online before April 6 2022, then you’ll need to use this link to sign in and continue your existing application.
If you’re making a new application or want to continue an application made on or after April 6 2022, on the other hand, then you’ll be required to use this official link.
Alternatively, if you’d like a solicitor to apply online for a divorce on your behalf, they’ll need to use a MyHMCTS account. However, before you even begin the process of applying for a divorce, you’ll need to make sure you have everything you need to ensure a smooth and fuss-free process.
According to official Government guidance, if you want to apply for divorce online, there are several pieces of information you’ll need. This includes your own full name and address as well as the full name and address of your husband or wife. A current address for your spouse is required so that the court can send them a copy of the divorce application.
However, if you provide an email address for your spouse, then the court will send the divorce documentation to them online using this address. In the event you do not supply an email address for your spouse, they will be sent in the traditional manner by post.
You’ll also need your original marriage certificate (or a certified copy along with a certified translation if the certificate isn’t written in English). Not to mention, if you’ve legally changed your name since getting married, you’ll be required to show proof of this name change. Acceptable evidence of this legal name change includes presenting your marriage certificate or deed poll.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that in order to pay the divorce application fee, you will need a credit or debit card. For your peace of mind and to ensure your payment details are safe, the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will call or email you to provide you with more payment information.
How much does it cost for an online divorce in the UK?
Regardless of any additional costs that you may be required to pay throughout the divorce process, the vast majority of divorces in England and Wales will need to pay the mandatory court-filing fee of £593 (this fee used to be £550 but was increased as of 2022). The only exception to this is if you are eligible for financial support using the Fee Exemption scheme either due to your low income or the fact that you receive benefits.
The fee also covers your application for your Decree Absolute/final order and is payable by the petitioner (also known as the spouse filing for divorce). Alternatively, the cost of filing for divorce can be shared if a joint application is made to divorce – often made in amicable divorces or no-fault divorces where blame is not assigned to just one particular spouse.
It’s important to bear in mind that this court-filing fee is still payable regardless of whether you apply for the divorce yourself or use a dedicated divorce solicitor to submit the application on your behalf. Once your application to get divorced has been issued, you won’t be refunded this money no matter the outcome.
Do you need a solicitor when you apply online for a divorce?
While you don’t need a solicitor to apply for a divorce (regardless of whether you apply online or not), they can support your application in many ways. From explaining paperwork and determining your fair share of assets to protecting your rights and providing you with objective legal advice, it could cost you much more in the long run if you don’t seek professional legal guidance.
However, it’s worth taking into account the cost of legal fees that arise when you hire a divorce solicitor. These legal fees are typically priced on a case-by-case basis, with solicitors either using fixed costs or an hourly rate to determine how much they want to be paid. As a result, the cost of a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce vary greatly.
According to Money Helper, 99 per cent of divorce cases in England and Wales are uncontested – this means the respondent doesn’t dispute the divorce filed by the petitioner and agrees to proceedings. While the exact cost of a divorce solicitor varies depending on their experience and reputation, in these uncontested cases, you can expect to spend anywhere between £450 and £950 in solicitor’s legal fees.
Add this to the set court-filing fee of £593 and the petitioner is likely to spend somewhere in the region of £1,043 to £1,543 obtaining an online divorce in the UK. Contested divorces, on the other hand, can be a much more expensive undertaking – especially if the two parties fail to reach an agreement. This is because contested divorces involve usually two court appearances and require more time and effort on the behalf of the divorce solicitor.
While contested divorces can be more difficult to settle, uncontested divorces can cost just as much when it comes to reaching a settlement if you have to take the case to court. Divorce court fees start at £225, while the divorce solicitor fees will increase if you have to make several court appearances. If the case continues after this point and is bought before a judge, you can expect to spend tens of thousands in total.
Ultimately, the longer a divorce goes on (regardless of whether it’s contested or uncontested), the more you can expect to spend on both solicitor legal fees and court fees. Based on the same research from Money Helper, the average UK divorce costs £14,561 – which includes both legal fees and lifestyle costs.
How long does an online divorce take in the UK?
Regardless of how you apply for a divorce, it will still take roughly the same amount of time to process the divorce. From the moment you submit your application to the date that you’re granted your Decree Absolute/final order in the UK, it often takes 26 weeks. However, traditional paper filings typically take substantially longer to fill out than the online application, so if you want to speed up the divorce process, choosing to apply online is often your best bet.
It’s important to remember, however, that every divorcing couple and their circumstances will be different. As a result, there’s no way to accurately estimate how long it will take you to get a divorce, but hiring an experienced divorce solicitor can help you to come to a swifter settlement and avoid unnecessary court appearances.
Can I check my divorce status online in the UK?
No, you can’t check your divorce status by heading online as divorce records are typically not available online. Instead, you’ll only be able to ‘check’ the divorce proceedings by consulting your divorce solicitor or waiting until you receive your Decree Absolute/final order. Once the final order has been issued by the court, it becomes public record.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that just because the divorce (once finalised by the Decree Absolute) has been made public record, this doesn’t mean it’s published and available to view online. Instead, you’ll have to approach the court that issued the Decree Absolute/final order to view the vast majority of divorce records – especially those issued since 1937.
According to the National Archives, there are some documents relating to divorce and separation that can be viewed online, but this does come with an additional charge. This includes the divorce case files for England and Wales (1858-1916) that are held under reference J 77/1/A1 to J 77/1063/2238 and can be accessed using Ancestry.co.uk.
Newsworthy divorce cases between the years 1785-1985 can also be searched and viewed online for an extra charge using The Times Archive, while the list of Divorces by private Acts of Parliament can also be viewed for free using the Legislation.gov.uk website. If you’d like to obtain a copy of a Decree Absolute, you’ll need to visit the UK Government website, stating the case number and the court where the divorce was granted – obtaining this copy comes at a £10 cost.
Freeman Jones Legal divorce solicitors
If you you’re considering seeking a divorce, need support with your divorce, or want to explore all your legal separation avenues, why not get in touch with the experienced team of divorce solicitors at Freeman Jones Legal?
Our talented team has years of invaluable experience providing accurate legal advice and unmatched customer support because we help our clients to navigate the confusing legal jargon and processes involved in obtaining a divorce.
As one of the leading law firms in the Chester area providing first-rate legal advice for an affordable price, our divorce solicitors offer expert legal advice and guidance to clients across this location. Not to mention, with offices located in Wrexham, Liverpool, Warrington and even North Wales, we can support clients from across the UK. To locate your closest branch, get in touch today!
Once you’ve reached out, we’ll be able to carry out a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your divorce requirements and ideal settlement in greater detail. Our highly-knowledgeable team can also provide tailored legal advice on family law, domestic violence, commercial law and inheritance disputes to ensure you have all the legal support you require.
Alternatively, you can also send an enquiry via email to firstname.lastname@example.org