Filing the divorce petition and supporting documents
Filing the divorce petition and supporting documents

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Filing the divorce petition and supporting documents
  • Where to start proceedings
  • The marriage certificate
  • Documents to be filed
  • Online divorce service
  • Notice of proceedings
  • Acknowledgement of service
  • Withdrawal before service

This Practice Note explains what documents must be filed with the petition when commencing proceedings for a divorce (an application for a matrimonial order). It explains what to do if the marriage certificate is not available. It also explains about divorce centres and the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre. It also provides details about the online divorce service. It explains how to withdraw a petition before service.

Proceedings for a matrimonial order (divorce proceedings) are commenced by an application for a matrimonial order (a petition).

Where to start proceedings

Proceedings for divorce must be commenced in the Family Court. HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) had established a network of 11 centralised divorce centres within England and Wales to handle the issue of divorce petitions. However HMCTS announced in February 2020 that it is closing, or has closed, some of the regional divorce centres (also referred to as regional divorce units (RDUs)) as a consequence of the move to issuing divorce proceedings online. The divorce centres are to be phased out and replaced by an online system based at the new national Courts and Tribunals Service Centre (CTSC) at Stoke on Trent. While HMCTS has referred to plans for additional CTSCs (at Birmingham and Loughborough), it appears at present that all family work is to be dealt with at the Stoke on Trent