What documents do I need to start a divorce?

by Nadine de Souza

If you want to get divorced, you need to fill in a divorce petition. You can get a divorce petition online from HM Courts & Tribunal Service or in person from any county court. You will have to send to the court the following:

D8 Divorce Petition

In the divorce petition you have to state your full name and address and your spouse's full name and address. You need to say where and when you got married. You will also have to state the full names, addresses and dates of birth of your children and where they are at school, if over 16. If your spouse has had a child during your marriage which is not a child of yours and is not a child of the family, then you need to give details.  

You have to give a reason for the divorce and whether you are going to claim any divorce costs from your spouse. If your divorce is because of your spouse's adultery and you want to name the person with whom the adultery was committed (although it's not often done), then you need the name and address of that person.

At the end of the petition is 'the prayer', which deals with your financial claims against your spouse. You should leave this wording in full if there is any chance that you might want to make any financial claims, as you cannot change your mind later on.

You must send three copies of the divorce petition to the court. You will need four copies if you are naming someone in a case of adultery.

D8A Statement of Arrangements for Children

You use this form to tell the court about the child care arrangements you have made with your spouse. You can tell the court with whom the children will live, their schooling, contact proposals and any health problems or special needs that your children have.

Original marriage certificate

You have to send the court your original marriage certificate. If you haven’t got it, then you must apply to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for a ‘certified copy’. Generally, you apply to the nearest registry office to the one where you got married and the fee is around £8. The court will not accept a photocopy of your marriage certificate, even if it has been certified by a solicitor.

If you weren't married in England and Wales, then you need to get a certified copy from the country where you were married. If it's in a foreign language, you will need to file a translation with the marriage certificate when you lodge your divorce petition at court. It's probably easiest to contact the embassy in England of the country in which you got married as they will have people who can translate the document and have it certified by an independent person.

Court fee or fee exemption form

The current court fee is £410. You can pay the fee by cash, postal order or cheque payable to HMCTS.

You can get help with this fee if you're on benefits or a low income. You must have an income below £2,530 gross per month. In addition, you have to complete Form Ex160 and provide the listed documents

Once you've completed these documents then you're ready to begin your divorce. You have to file all the documents at the court most convenient to where you live as you may have to visit it several times before the divorce is complete.

Help from Lawpack

All the divorce forms you need – and expert guidance on how to use them – can be found in Lawpack’s Separation & DIY Divorce Kit.

If you need assistance in completing the forms, then you can use our DIY Divorce Service who will complete them for you. With our Managed Divorce Service they will complete them and also file them at court for you.

If you want more in-depth information from a divorce lawyer about all aspects of divorce law then read our guide, How to Get a Divorce by Punam Denley. Packed with tips and expert advice to ensure that you get through the divorce process smoothly.

Other information


Published on: July 30, 2014

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