Online divorce FAQ

HomeFAQOnline divorce FAQ
Why do you only do uncontested divorces?

All of the online providers only deal with uncontested divorces.  We are not a law firm and, therefore, cannot engage in litigation on your behalf.  Instead, we offer advice and guidance on the divorce process and can draft your paperwork for a fraction of the cost when compared to a high street solicitor.

Our customers come to us having settled their finances between themselves via discussion or having been referred to us via the mediation process.  Some of our customers may have even started using a solicitor but quickly reached agreement on the finances with their spouse.  Rather than continue to pay inflated legal fees, they have appointed an online provider to handle their divorce and save hundreds of pounds.

How are you different from other online providers like Divorce Online and Quickie Divorce?

All of us provide similar services, however, Express Divorce use experienced solicitors to supervise all divorces.  In the case of our premium services, the entire divorce documentation is drafted by a senior matrimonial solicitor who subsequently oversees the process through court.   

In addition, our actual managed premium packages are significantly less expensive than Divorce Online’s packages.  Both Divorce Online and Quickie Divorce do outsource to solicitors, however, we are committed to keeping all divorces in-house to reduce delay and/or potential loss of documents.

Express Divorce are also entirely transparent about costs.  We started our online divorce service as an antidote to the rising legal fees charged by solicitors.  Our competitors’ websites are not particularly clear about the court fees and when you will need to pay them.  On the other hand, we are entirely upfront about these additional fees as we do not want to give any of our customers a nasty surprise after they have purchased one of services!

How do I actually get a divorce?

The process is similar whether you apply online or use a traditional paper petition.

The petitioner completes a petition and lodges it with the court.

There are 3 main stages:

The Petition

The Petitioner issues a petition and sends it to the court.  The court ‘seals’ the petition and sends it to the Respondent together with an acknowledgement of service.  The Respondent must complete the acknowledgement of service and return it to the court.

Application for Decree Nisi

The court will send a sealed copy of the completed acknowledgement to the Petitioner who must prepare an application for decree nisi and an accompanying document known as a statement in support.

The court normally takes 6-8 weeks to consider the application for decree nisi.  Assuming there are no problems with the petition, the court will grant a certificate of entitlement to a decree.  3-4 weeks later, the court will grant the actual decree nisi.  This is, by far, the longest stage of the divorce.

Application for Decree Absolute

The Petitioner must wait a minimum of 6 weeks and 1 clear day after the date of the decree nisi before they can apply for the decree absolute.  The application for decree absolute is a simple 1 page application form.  Once submitted to the court, the Petitioner should normally receive their decree absolute within 1-2 weeks.

Will I need to go to court for my divorce?

It is extremely unlikely that you will have to attend court.  We can never fully rule out the possibility as the judge, when considering the paperwork, might want to see you and your spouse to make enquiries about why and how you reached the agreement you did.  This may seem like a box ticking exercise, however, most of these hearings take approximately 5 minutes and it is rare for a judge to refuse an order following such a hearing.

It is unlikely that you will need representation at one of these hearings.  That said, we are happy to suggest options if the need ever arose.  Once again, we stress that the likelihood of this happening is rare.

What are the grounds for divorce?

There is only one ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage.  You must demonstrate one of the five facts in your petition to prove irretrievable breakdown – those facts are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • 2 years’ separation (with Respondent’s consent)
  • 5 years’ separation
  • Desertion
I’ve been reading about a ‘no fault divorce.’ Can I get one yet?

The Bill is currently proceeding through the Parliamentary process.  We suspect that ‘no fault’ divorce will become law in mid 2022.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Between 4 and 5 months for a simple divorce.  Between 6 and 7 months when a consent order is involved.  All of this is dependent on both you and your spouse responding to paperwork quickly.

There are certain times during the year when the court has a huge backlog of work and/or staff are on annual leave.  This often causes several weeks further delay although we will follow-up any significant delay on your behalf.

Are online divorces any different from ‘normal’ divorces?

The simple answer is ‘no.’  The actual process is identical although we are using the HMCTS online service more and more so there is actually less physical paperwork.

What is your 7 day money back guarantee and how does it work?

Our number one priority at Express Divorce is ensuring you’re satisfied with the divorce service you’ve purchased from us. We understand that starting a divorce is a big step and, occasionally, our customers change their minds. Therefore, we introduced a 7 day money back guarantee on all of our managed divorce services* meaning that we’ll refund your money if you decide our service isn’t for you, just reach out to our friendly customer service team.

* Guarantee expires 7 days after purchase or upon customer opening link in welcome email to complete data capture forms. includes all managed divorce services as well as the following standalone services – pre-nuptial agreement, separation agreement and consent order.

What happens if my spouse doesn’t respond to my divorce petition?

Although this is rare in uncontested, agreed divorces, it does occasionally crop up from time to time.  There are a number of options available which include:

  • A simple chase letter/email to your spouse
  • Court bailiff service of the petition
  • Appointing a private process server to serve the petition
  • Requesting the court to deem service of the petition (if there is evidence such as a message/email/tel call from the Respondent confirming that they have received the paperwork)

We do NOT charge for simple chasing correspondence to the Respondent.  Unfortunately, appointing a court bailiff/process server will likely cost an additional fee (between £50 and £100).  An application to the court will also incur costs, including a £50 court fee.

Can I pay by cash or cheque?

We cannot accept cash although we can accept cheques made payable to ‘ExD Legal Services.’  Please note that, should you pay by cheque, Express Divorce will not carry out any work on your behalf until 24 hours after the money has cleared.

What happens if I cannot find my original marriage certificate?

We can assist you with obtaining a replacement or you may want to contact your local Registry Office.  Replacement certificates normally take between 48 hours and 2 weeks depending on whether you use a private firm or your Local Registry to obtain the replacement certificate on your behalf.  The cost varies normally depending on how quickly you want your replacement certificate.

I’m on a low wage. Do I have to pay the court fee?

If you are using a traditional paper petition, you will need to complete an EX160…. In the case of online petitions, you will need to apply for an exemption online and obtain a ‘Help with Fees’ reference.  You can apply online here. – insert this hyperlink.

The online application is much quicker.  If you are applying for an exemption with a traditional paper petition, you should factor in the likely delay which can be frustrating if you need to be divorced by a certain date.  There is often very little we can do to hurry the court along when it comes to decisions on fee refunds.  Sometimes, petitioners can find the money from family or friends to pay the fees up front AND (GET RID OF BUT) recover it from the court at a later date.  Please bear in mind that you have  a maximum of 3 months after the date of the decree absolute to request a fee refund.


When do I pay the court fee?

We ask you to transfer the court fee to us several days before we issue the petition.  Of course, you have the option to pay the court fees when you first order your divorce service.

It is worth checking to see if you are entitled to a court fee exemption or a reduction by clicking here.  Please let us know as you will need to complete some additional paperwork before the court will confirm your entitlement and issue your petition.

What do I do if I married abroad and my certificate is written in a foreign language?

You will need a certified translation of your marriage certificate.  We have a list of approved court translators that we can appoint on your behalf.  Normally, a professional translator will provide a translated certificate within 72 hours.

What happens if my spouse is living abroad?

Provided you are habitually resident or domiciled in England and Wales, it is not a problem.  Of course, you will need your spouse’s foreign residential address for the purpose of serving the divorce petition.

If you do not know the address, it is possible to appoint an international TRACE agent/process server to find out where your spouse currently resides.  The cost and time varies from country to country although we have a list of approved process servers and can discuss this with you should the issue arise.

I am a foreign national but my spouse lives in England/Wales. Can I still use your service?

Yes, provided your spouse is habitually resident or domiciled in England and Wales.

Can I issue an adultery or unreasonable behaviour petition if me and my spouse are still living together?

Yes you can provided you have not resumed your relationship.  Sometimes people live within the same house but have divided the property into 2 separate households and do not share washing, cooking, etc..  In this case, we often need additional details of how you are ‘living apart’ within the same house.  We have known occasions where a judge has requested a simple sketched map of who lives where in the house and how it has been divided up!

I have young children. Do I need to agree who they are living with before I start my divorce?

Ideally, yes.  It is possible to start divorce proceedings without an agreement on living arrangements for the children, however, this can lead to arguments as the divorce progresses.  If you have reached an agreement, you may want to consider a written Child Arrangements Deed in addition to your divorce service. 

I have not fully agreed the finances with my spouse, can I still get divorced?

Yes, but with conditions. 

Please bear in mind that we are a drafting service specialising in uncontested divorces.

If it is clear that you and your spouse are unlikely to reach agreement or any agreement you did reach breaks down, we will need to review the situation.  It is possible that we will ask you to consider mediation (if you have not done so already) or, alternatively, seek legal advice.

I have been separated for years and don’t know where my spouse is. Can I still start a divorce?

The court will always expect you to make an effort to locate your spouse before starting divorce proceedings.  Sometimes, this may involve some social media digging or contacting your spouse’s family or friends to obtain an address.  We appreciate that, sometimes, this is not always possible so you may need to appoint a ‘no trace, no fee’ process server to locate your spouse.

if you have exhausted every avenue trying to locate your spouse, we can apply to the court on your behalf and ask them to dispense with service.  Please note that this is an additional application for which we charge £100.

I have not received my welcome pack from Express Divorce. What do I do?

Please contact our customer services team if you have not received your confirmation email and welcome pack within 2 hours of payment.

Are Express Divorce a law firm?

We are not a law firm nor are we regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).  The solicitors that we employ are not required to have professional indemnity insurance that meets the SRA’s minimum terms and conditions.  They are, however, authorised and regulated by the SRA in their personal capacity.