Can You Get A Divorce Online?

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 9th February 2024

If your marriage or civil partnership has ended, you might want to get a divorce. Historically, divorces have been seen as costly. We investigated the average cost of divorces across the UK, and the results were eye-opening, to say the least!

With the recent launch of the HMCTS online divorce service, many couples are considering a DIY divorce. This service makes the process much easier without needing a divorce lawyer.

In this article, we'll discuss the online divorce process and offer some points to consider, helping you make an informed decision.

We'll also cover the ins and outs of getting a divorce online in the UK including how to apply for a divorce online, what documents you will need, the costs involved, and how long it should take to complete the process.

What is a DIY divorce?

A DIY divorce is when you and your former partner handle the divorce or dissolution process without much, or any, help from a solicitor.

In many cases, getting a divorce is straightforward, and many people manage it themselves. However, dealing with financial matters and child arrangements can complicate things.

While a DIY divorce might seem like the simplest and cheapest option, it's crucial to understand your rights and the full consequences of any agreements or decisions you make.

It's important to note that getting a divorce or dissolution only ends the marriage or civil partnership. It doesn't sever the financial ties between a couple. To do that, you need to obtain a legally binding court order regarding financial arrangements.

Can you get a divorce online?

You can apply for a divorce online using the HMCTS online divorce service, this includes making an initial joint or sole application and applying for both a conditional order and a final order. If you’re using a divorce solicitor, they can apply online on your behalf using their MyHMCTS account.


How to apply for a divorce online

There are two ways to apply for a divorce online:

  • By applying through the UK government website;

  • Instructing an online divorce solicitor to apply on your behalf

Applying for divorce using the UK government website

In April 2022, new divorce laws took effect, removing the need for divorcing couples to give a reason or provide evidence for ending their marriage, known as grounds for divorce.

With those new divorce laws also came a new online divorce service. The goal of both of these things is to reduce conflict between separating partners and make the process quicker by allowing applicants to complete the process online.

If you want to apply for a divorce yourself, you can do this through the online divorce portal on the government website.

For this you will need:

  • Yours and your spouse’s full legal names and addresses. This is so both of you can receive copies of the application and subsequent documents. If you don’t know where your spouse is, there are processes you can follow to get a divorce or end a civil partnership if your partner is missing, or they’re presumed dead.

  • Your original marriage certificate or a certified copy of it. You should also provide a certified translation if your original certificate is in another language.

  • Proof of name change (such as a change of name deed). This is only required if you’ve changed your name since getting married.

  • Credit or debit card. It costs £593 to apply for a divorce online. You’ll need a debit or credit card to hand, as this is required upfront.

Applying for a divorce online with the help of a solicitor

A solicitor can apply for a divorce online on your behalf should you wish. They can do this whether you’re making a sole application or a joint application for divorce.

To do this they will use an online portal called MyHMCTS, which is an online tool for legal professionals.

Provided you supply your divorce solicitor with the information and paperwork listed above, they will complete the application process on your behalf. To do this, it is useful for them to also know:

  • If there are any existing or previous court proceedings relating to the divorce or dissolution;

  • If you want to apply for a financial order for yourself or your children.

Your solicitor will also pay the court fee on your behalf when they make the application, therefore they will build this fee into your initial quote.

3 stages of the online divorce process


There are 3 key stages to the online divorce process. These are:

Initial online application

To begin divorce proceedings online, you start by making either a joint or sole application through the online portal or you can instruct your solicitor to do this on your behalf.

When you have done this, you will then need to wait for the court to issue your divorce application, plus a further 20 weeks before taking the next step.

If you make a sole application, you'll also have to wait up to 14 days for your spouse to respond. They can do this online if they don't have a solicitor representing them.

Apply for a conditional order (formerly decree nisi) online

When the court has issued your divorce application and 20 weeks have gone by, you can apply for a conditional order online.

Instructions for how to do this will be detailed on the online portal, or your divorce solicitor can do it for you.

Before the divorce law reforms in 2022, a conditional order was referred to as a decree nisi.

It can take several weeks for the court to review your application for a conditional order, even if you did complete it online. If the judge agrees that there is no reason why you cannot divorce, you and your spouse will receive the conditional order certificate.

After you have received the conditional order, you will have to wait another 43 days before you can finalise the divorce and end your marriage officially.

Apply for a final order (formerly decree absolute) online

After 43 days have passed since you received your conditional order, you will be able to apply online for a final order.

Before the divorce law reforms in 2022, a final order was called a decree absolute.

Following final checks, the court will send both you and your ex-spouse a copy of the final order. At this point, you are officially divorced.

Can I track the progress of my online divorce application?

You can check the progress of your online divorce application through the same online portal.

If you are working with a solicitor, they should update you regularly on the progress of your divorce.

When you sign up for the service, you can also opt-in to receive email notifications throughout the online divorce process, so you don’t miss any important communications.

Do I need a solicitor to get a divorce online?

No. You do not need a solicitor to get an online divorce. Using the online divorce process on the UK government website, you can do the whole process yourself, if you wish.

You can also choose to use online divorce services to support you with applying online, however, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of using this type of service.

It’s important to note that getting a divorce online only legally terminates the marriage agreement. It does not sever the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse. That means if you don’t finalise a fair financial settlement with a consent order or clean break order, for example, in the future your ex-spouse could make a financial claim.

Because of this, it’s always advisable to get legal help if you’re getting a divorce. Not only can a divorce lawyer apply online on your behalf (and make sure that all the necessary paperwork is present, correct, and error-free), but they can also support you with negotiating and agreeing on divorce financial settlements and child arrangements if need be, and ensure you are protected against future financial claims from your ex-spouse.

How long does an online divorce take?


In general, an online divorce typically takes about 7-8 months at a minimum.

Using an online service can speed up the process because it simplifies the steps and eliminates the need for manual form filling and posting. Additionally, if both parties apply for the divorce jointly, you can skip the 14-day acknowledgment period required for sole applications.

However, even with an online application, you'll still have to wait for a 20-week "reflection period" before applying for a conditional order, followed by an additional 6 weeks before applying for a final order.

These waiting periods add up to around 6 months. But keep in mind that the Courts' processing times for approving your application, including the conditional and final orders, should also be considered. Furthermore, it could take longer if you and your ex-partner can't agree on a financial settlement and the matter progresses to a financial dispute resolution hearing.

Yes, an online divorce is legal provided you use the online divorce service to submit your application. Online divorce applications, whether submitted by you or a trusted divorce solicitor, go through the very same process listed above and once a final order has been issued you will be officially divorced in the eyes of the law.

If you choose to use an online divorce service that promises to help you with filing the divorce application, it is wise to do your research before parting with any money or disclosing any personal details.

While many of these services are legitimate and will lead to a legal online divorce, as with doing any kind of business online it is wise to take steps to protect yourself and understand what you’re signing up for.

You can do this by checking an online service or firm's Trustpilot reviews or Google reviews to check their legitimacy. If you’re looking to work with a solicitor online to start divorce proceedings, you can also check their SRA records online to verify their credentials.

How much does an online divorce cost?

An online divorce typically costs the same as any other divorce, but it can depend on how you do it:

If you use a divorce solicitor

You will have to pay the standard cost of a divorce to the court plus the solicitor's fees which can vary depending on how they charge for their services (i.e. fixed-fee or hourly).

Typically, working with a solicitor online can be cheaper in some circumstances, however, it does depend on how complex the divorce is and any other legal help you might need relating to financial settlements or child arrangements.

If you use an online divorce service

Similarly, if you use an online divorce service, typically you will have to pay the standard fee plus a service cost, which can cost around £200.

It is worth noting, however, that a lot of online divorce services offer purely administrative support (i.e. they’ll fill in the paperwork for you). They won’t be able to help you with financial orders, consent orders, or child arrangement orders. If you need help with this it is best to get advice from a trusted divorce lawyer.

If you do it yourself

If you choose to go the route of a DIY divorce, you’ll only have to pay the standard online application fee.

A word of caution on this, however. Lots of people find themselves making mistakes in divorce proceedings which can slow the process down, such as entering names or marriage certificate details incorrectly.

Enlisting the help of a divorce solicitor gives you peace of mind that the information submitted in your online application is accurate and in your best interests.

Benefits of getting a divorce online

The main benefit of using the online platform to apply for a divorce is convenience.

No matter where you are in England or Wales, you can start the process any time using just a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

There is no need to print off any forms and provided that both you and your spouse have an email address and internet access, you can both stay in the loop at all stages of the divorce process.

As the online process is designed to be accessible to everyone, it is relatively straightforward to complete, which should help you save on legal costs. That being said, while you might not feel you need a solicitor to help with completing the application, it might be wise to seek advice on other areas such as finances, property division, and arrangements for children, as the process does not cover these areas and can leave you vulnerable in future.

Is a DIY divorce right for you?

While you can get a divorce online without a solicitor's help, it's not always the best choice.

A DIY divorce might work for couples without children or those with straightforward finances. However, even if you're aiming for a clean break order to sever uncomplicated financial ties and prevent future legal claims, it's wise to have a solicitor draft the agreement and offer advice tailored to your situation.

Get help applying for a divorce online


While applying for a divorce online is relatively straightforward, you might find you need some extra help if you:

  • Need advice about the information you’re providing;

  • Don’t feel confident using the internet;

  • Do not have access to a computer or smartphone;

  • Aren’t sure what you’re entitled to regarding a financial settlement;

The government offers a Digital Support service, which you can use if you can’t get online or you find it difficult to use the internet.

Alternatively, if you need legal support regarding your online divorce application, let Lawhive, the leading online platform for legal assistance, streamline the process for you.

Our network of expert UK solicitors is here to help you get a quick stress-free online divorce with no hidden costs or surprises.

We offer fixed fee quotes, so you can have peace of mind throughout the entire divorce process. To get started, simply tell us about your case through our simple form and we will take care of the rest.

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