How to Divorce in the U.K.

Updated April 17, 2017

According to the Office for National Statistics, the divorce rate in England and Wales is 11.2 people per 1,000 of the married population. This rate is highest amongst men and women in their late twenties. In the U.K., the divorce process is becoming increasingly streamlined and, in many cases, the couple does not even need to go to court. However, the process involves a lot of paperwork and so many seek the help of a solicitor.

Check the date of your marriage certificate. In the U.K, you cannot file for divorce unless you have been married for one year.

Fill in the paperwork. Complete the divorce petition (form D8) and, if you have children, fill in the statement of arrangements for the children (form D8A.) Photocopy both forms three times. One copy of each form is for the husband and the wife and the other is for the court.

Send the paperwork to your local divorce county court. Enclose two of the copies of form D8 and form D8A (if applicable), the court will send one of each of these copies to your husband or wife on your behalf. Also include a copy of your marriage certificate (this cannot be a photocopy) and the full names and addresses of yourself, your husband or wife and any person who your husband or wife has committed adultery with. Check that the names and dates of birth of all of your living minor children are also included. Include a court fee (the amount varies with the court). The court will send a copy of your petition (and any proposed arrangements for children) and an acknowledgement of service (form D10) to the respondent. The respondent has eight days to return form D10 to the court.

Apply for Directions to Trial. Fill in form D84 (application for directions for trial) and form D80 (affidavit of evidence). These forms ask the court to consider whether you have grounds for a divorce and if the arrangements you propose for any children are satisfactory.

Wait for form D84A (certificate of entitlement to a decree). This will tell you the time and date on which the judge will grant your divorce. This is known as 'pronouncing the decree nisi.' On this date, you will receive form D29 (decree nisi).

Apply for a decree absolute. You have to wait for six weeks after your decree nisi to apply for a decree absolute. Once this has been granted, you are free to remarry.


Contact the citizens advice bureau if you need help filling in the paperwork. It also provides notes to guide you through the sections in the forms. The court fee can be paid by check (made payable to Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS), cash or postal order. However, if you are on Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, receive State Pension Guarantee Credit; or working Tax Credit (but no Child Tax Credit), you do not have to pay the court fee.


Filling in a form incorrectly can delay the divorce. Get someone to read through the forms before you send them off.

Things You'll Need

  • form D8 (divorce petition)
  • form D84 (application for directions for trial)
  • form D80 (affidavit of evidence)
  • form D84A (certificate of entitlement to a decree)
  • form D29 (decree nisi)
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