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15 September 2017

A step-by-step guide to completing a Divorce Petition: an illustrated guide

Mahie Abey, Head of Family Law, Dawson Hart

If you are the person initiating the divorce (or dissolution of a civil partnership or a judicial separation) then you are known as ‘the Petitioner’ and you will have to fill in the divorce petition. 

You then need to post it the correct Divorce Centre for your area (there’s help on that in the next post in this series, What to do with your completed Divorce Petition, here.)

Download a Divorce Petition form (called ‘D8’) from the Court Service website – you can then either fill it in by hand or on your computer (it's a pdf file so you'll need Acrobat).

A new version of the form came into effect on 4th September 2017 – if you’ve got a copy of the form from somewhere other than the Court Service website, just double check that it says 'D8 Application for a divorce, dissolution or to apply for a (judicial) separation order (08.17)' in the bottom left corner of the first page.

The petition has helpful notes on the right hand side of the page, and what follows is in part at least a repetition of those notes. Although the form is pretty it’s really not very hard, so don’t worry!

Points to note: 
  •       Remember you are the Petitioner and your ex-partner is the Respondent.
  •       In many cases, for the sake of brevity, we have used ‘marriage’ to mean ‘marriage or civil partnership’.
  •       The numbers on this blog post relate to the page number of the form not the section or question number – hence 3.A relates to something on page 3 (even if it is in section 2). 


Page 1




1.A      Most petitioners will have to pay a fee for their divorce (currently £550; this can be shared between yourself and your ex-partner as you wish), and so will leave this box blank.  

However, if your income and savings are below a certain amount, and/or you are in receipt of certain benefits, you may not have to pay – look at form EX160 here.

If you have already been filled in form EX160, and been told you don’t have to pay the full fee, then enter your 'Help with Fees reference number' here.

(Note that you can apply for a refund for the court fee for up to 3 months after you submit your petition – again, see form EX160.) 

1.B      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes, whichever suits you best.

Section 1: Your application (known as a petition in divorce or judicial separation)

1.C      Tick 1 of these 3 boxes:

-        divorce if you are married and want to legally end the marriage;
-        dissolution if you are in a civil partnership and want to legally end the civil partnership;
-        judicial separation if you are in either a marriage or civil partnership and want to legally separate but not yet end it. This would probably be because you have religious reasons against divorce, or you have been married/in a civil partnership for less than a year (and so can’t apply yet for a divorce or dissolution) or you want time and space to work out if you want to end the marriage/civil partnership. Read more about judicial separation here.

1.D      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

If you got married in the UK tick the 1st box. Note you’ll need to find your original marriage certificate and send it in with your completed petition (it won’t be returned) or a certified copy. If you haven’t got either, the notes on the right tell you how to apply for a certified copy.

If you got married abroad tick the 2nd box. Note you’ll need to make sure you have the translation to send in with your completed petition.   


Page 2

Section 2: About you (the applicant/petitioner)


2.A      This is obvious! (Don’t forget to enter any middle name(s).)

2.B      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

In most cases it will be ‘Yes’ – i.e. if your name before you got married was Jane Smith, and when you were married you used your husband’s surname and became Jane Jones, then so long as you have entered one of those names in the first 2 boxes of 2.1 you should tick this box.

If the name you have given in the first 2 boxes of qn 2.1 is not the name you had before you were married, nor your spouse’s surname nor a combination of the two surnames, then tick ‘No’.

 - if you have a change of name deed or a statutory declaration about your change of name then you’ll need to attach it to your completed petition – no need to do anything more

- if you don’t have a change of name deed or a statutory declaration then you’ll need to explain in the box why your name has changed


2.C      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

            In most cases it will be ‘Yes’.

            If it’s ‘No’, fill in form C8, which you can find here.

2.D      If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ above then fill in these 4 boxes.

            Leave them blank if you’ve answered ‘No’. 


Page 3

Section 2: About you (the applicant/petitioner) cont’d



3.A      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

            Since you are reading this post it’s likely to be ‘No’!

3.B      Leave these boxes blank UNLESS you’ve ticked ‘Yes’ in qn 2.4



3.C      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

3.D      If you’ve said ‘No’ above, then give your work address here (otherwise leave it blank).


Page 4

Section 3: About your spouse/civil partner (the respondent)



4.A      As for you, this is obvious - don’t forget to enter any middle name(s).

4.B      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

In most cases it will be the ‘Yes’ box – i.e. your husband has always been called John Hamilton, or your ex-partner’s name before you got married was Jane Smith, and when you were married she used your name and became Jane Jones (or Jane Smith-Jones), and this is the name she still uses.

So long as you have entered one of those names in the first 2 boxes of qn 3.1 you should tick ‘Yes’.

If the name you have given in the first 2 boxes of qn 3.1 is not the name your ex-partner had before you were married, nor your surname nor a combination of the two surnames, then tick ‘No’ – and, if you know, why their name has changed since your marriage, explain why in the box below.  

4.C      Enter this information. The notes are helpful here – in summary, unless you enter details of your ex-partner’s solicitor at qns 3.3 to 3.7, or a different address for your ex-partner (i.e. their work address) at qn 3.7, the court will send papers for r ex-partner to this address.

            See the notes for advice on what to do if you don’t know your ex-partner’s address.


Page 5

Section 3: About your spouse/civil partner (the respondent) cont’d


5.A      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

Tick ‘No’ if your ex-partner is NOT using a solicitor for the divorce and court papers should be sent to his or her home address (which you’ve already listed). 

Tick ‘Yes’ EITHER if your ex-partner is using a solicitor for the divorce OR if papers should be sent to an address other than their home address.

Then:

5.B      EITHER fill in all these boxes (or as much as you can) if your ex-partner is using a solicitor for the divorce.

5.C      OR give the address (not your ex-partner’s home address) to which the court should send papers relating to the divorce.



Page 6

Section 4: Details of marriage/civil partnership 

6.A      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes – this should be obvious, and in most cases will be ‘No’.

6.B      Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

In most cases, assuming you have your original marriage certificate, or have got a certified copy of it, this will be ‘No’.

If you don’t have the original or a certified copy I’d recommend ordering a certified copy now if you can. As the notes on page 1 of the form say, for marriages/civil partnerships in England and Wales you can order a copy of the certificate at www.gro.gov.uk/gro/ content/certificates. If you got married outside England and Wales, google for help on getting a certified copy.

If you don’t have your original marriage certificate, and can’t get hold of a certified copy then tick ‘Yes’. You will then also need to fill in form D11 here and send that in with your completed petition. (You might need legal help with this.)

6.C      This is obvious – enter as ‘06 September 2000’ (for example). 

6.D      Both of your full names (including middle names) as shown on your marriage certificate (so this will likely to be the maiden name of one of you).

            NOTE: set these names out exactly as they appear on the certificate, even if they have been misspelt!

6.E       Tick 1 of these 2 boxes.

            In most cases it will be ‘Yes’.

            Tick ‘No’ if the details are incorrect - for example, something has been misspelt on the certificate, and explain the error in the box below. 


Page 7

Section 5: Why this court can deal with your case (Jurisdiction)

This section has rather complicated and tricky language in it. It’s here to ensure that the Court has the power to grant your divorce, or has jurisdiction over your case.

The vast majority of people will be able to select one of the options in qn 5.1 (almost certainly if you live inside the EU). If none of these apply to you, then have a look at the options in qn 5.2 on page 8.  

7.A      Tick the 1st box if, as is most likely, you and your ex both live in England or Wales, and have done so for some time.

If that’s not the case, read through the other options and see if any of them apply to you.

It might help to define two terms that are used here:

‘habitually resident’ - this is where you live

‘domicile’ - this means that your main connection is with England and Wales, and you still consider it to be your home: it is a quite nebulous concept.

If you’re not sure whether any of these apply, take a look at the boxes on page 8 and see if you think these fit your situation better.


Page 8

Section 5: Why this court can deal with your case (Jurisdiction) cont’d

The options on this page apply if you live outside of the EU but one (or both) of you is domiciled (see the definition above) in England and Wales.

8.A       Tick this box if you are in a different sex marriage and then….

8.B        … tick one or both of these boxes as appropriate to which of you (the Petitioner) and your ex (the Respondent) is domiciled in England and Wales

8.C       Tick this box if you are in a same sex marriage or a civil partnership and then….

8.D       … EITHER tick one or both, of these boxes as appropriate to which of you (the Petitioner) and your ex (the Respondent) is domiciled in England and Wales

8.E       …OR tick this if your civil partnership was registered, or your same sex marriage happened, under ‘the law of England and Wales’


Page 9

Section 6: Give the reason for your divorce or dissolution (the facts)

9.A      Tick whichever of the five reasons why your marriage broke down applies.


The form says choose one or more but I would recommend you only choose one, as it’s much easier. There’s a useful explanation of these 5 divorce facts in the Intelligent Divorce Guide to the Divorce Process


Page 10

Section 7: Supporting information (Statement of case)

Note: Qn 7.1 is only relevant if you have chosen 2 or 5 years’ separation as the reason for your divorce in qn 6.1 – otherwise, leave this blank.

10.A             Give both these dates.

If it is hard to give, or remember, an exact date, then it is fine to state the month and year and put ‘01’ in the DD boxes.

It’s fine if these are the same or different dates – so long as the latest is at least 2 or 5 years ago as appropriate.

(Note you can have lived in the same house but not as a couple – see below.)

10.B                Tick 1 of these 2 boxes

                        Tick ‘No’ if you have not lived as a couple (i.e. started your relationship again) since the 2nd date you’ve given.

                        Tick ‘Yes’ if you did start your relationship again after the 2nd date given above, and list in the box the period you were back together for, with a brief explanation – i.e.’We tried to reconcile for the sake of our children but it didn’t work out’.  This period as a couple will be deducted from the date you separated – so if you are using 2 years’ separation, and you’ve have entered a period of 3 months in the box, you’ll need to make sure 2 years and 9 months has passed since the last date you gave in 10.A.  

Note: Qn 7.2 is only relevant if you have chosen adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion as the reason for your divorce in qn 6.1 – otherwise, leave this blank.

10.C    The notes on the right hand side are helpful here. To add to them:

If you’ve ticked adultery: Don’t name the person with whom your spouse has committed adultery. It unnecessarily complicates things. Say the date(s) and place(s) where the adultery took place and how you discovered it and when – or as much of this as you know. For example:

I became aware of the adultery on 1st March 2016. I believe it started in December 2015 and took place in the Respondent’s mother’s house.

If you’ve ticked unreasonable behaviour: List six instances of behaviour including the most recent. They do not have to be nasty.

You might find it easier to choose them from the list below: 
  • The Respondent on numerous occasions has stated that [he/she] does not love the Petitioner anymore, which has caused the Petitioner distress. 
  • The Respondent has consistently shown little or no interest in socialising with the Petitioner or [his/her] friends and has made no effort to do so
  • The Respondent has regularly belittled the Petitioner, both in private and on occasions in public, causing the Petitioner to lose self-esteem.
  • The Respondent is often selfish in the way [he/she] behaves and has in recent times not prioritised the parties’ relationship in any way.
  • The Respondent does not sleep in the same bed as the Petitioner, and has not done so since [insert date], causing the Petitioner distress.
  • The parties have not had a sexual relationship since [insert date], which has been caused by the Respondent’s behaviour and distressed the Petitioner.
  • The Petitioner believes that the Respondent has formed a relationship with another [man/woman], which has caused the Petitioner distress.
  • The Respondent moved out of the matrimonial home on [insert date] saying that [he/she] could no longer live with the Petitioner and that the marriage was over, which caused the Petitioner obvious distress.
  • The Petitioner moved out of the matrimonial home on [insert date] as a result of the behaviour of the Respondent, believing that there was no future in the marriage and that the Respondent’s behaviour would not change.
  • The Respondent has a bad temper which [he/she] has lost on numerous occasions causing the Petitioner to be scared.
  • The parties have argued over money issues for some time. These arguments have been fuelled by the Respondent’s attitude and behaviour.
  • The Respondent has been verbally abusive towards the Petitioner on numerous occasions causing the Petitioner distress.
  • The Respondent has always disliked the Petitioner’s family, which has led to the Petitioner feeling isolated from them and thus causing [him/her] distress.
  • The Respondent has always had too close a relationship to [his/her] own family making the Petitioner feel isolated.
  • The Respondent has never liked the Petitioner’s family despite the Petitioner’s best efforts and has never socialised with them as much as the Petitioner has requested, causing the Petitioner distress.
  • The Respondent has failed to look after [himself/herself] physically despite the Petitioner’s requests to the contrary.
  • The Respondent has consistently refused to assist around the house, leaving all such matters to the Petitioner, despite regular requests to the contrary.
  • The Respondent often drinks excessively, in the view of the Petitioner, which causes [him/her] to behave in an [irresponsible/aggressive/unpleasant] manner, causing the Petitioner distress.
  • The Respondent is a very jealous person who regularly checks the Petitioner’s [movements/friends/telephone calls/text messages], which makes the Petitioner feel constantly ill at ease and unnecessarily monitored
  • The Respondent makes most of the decisions in the parties’ lives without consulting the Petitioner enough or at all. This makes the Petitioner feel as if [he/she] is being constantly pressured into doing things [he/she] does not want to.
  • The Respondent is obsessive in [his/her] habits and is constantly critical if the Petitioner does not meet [his/her] perceived high standards, which the Petitioner is unable to tolerate any longer.
  • The Respondent, in the Petitioner’s view, is unnecessarily mean with money and keeps a very tight control over the family finances, treating the Petitioner as a paid employee rather than a spouse.
  • The Respondent has always gone out with[his/her] [male/female] friends regularly, to the exclusion of the Petitioner, causing [him/her] distress.
  • The Respondent’s behaviour has been very erratic over the recent past, with regular mood shifts and unprovoked anger, which has led to the Petitioner feeling uneasy in the relationship.
  • The Respondent is obsessed by [fill in the relevant hobby/interest] and spends most of [his/her] free time in this pursuit to the exclusion of the family.
  • The Respondent works very long hours and does not find time to spend with the Petitioner and the family, which has caused the Petitioner to feel no longer part of the Respondent’s life.
  • The Respondent’s [insert behaviour] which has caused the Petitioner [insert the effect it has had on you].

 If you’ve ticked desertion: As the notes say, include the date when your ex-partner partner left (deserted you) without your consent and describe why and how this came about. You should also confirm that you have lived separately since the date of desertion.


Page 11

Section 8: Adultery cases only – details of the person your partner committed adultery with (co-respondent)

Note: Qns 8.1 and 8.2 are only possibly relevant if you have chosen adultery as the reason for your divorce in qn 6.1 – otherwise, leave this blank.

11.A    If you have followed my advice in 10.C and not named there the person your ex-partner committed adultery with then leave this blank.  

            If you haven’t followed my advice, then give the name you entered in qn 7.2 here, together with their address.


Page 12

Section 9: Existing court cases

12.A    Tick 1 of these 2 boxes – in most cases it will be ‘No’ (you’ll know if it’s ‘Yes’).

12.B    If you’ve ticked ‘Yes’ then give the case number and details here.


Page 13

Section 10: Dividing your money and property – Orders which are sought

13.A    This is another technically difficult part of the form. 

What you do by ticking ‘Yes’ here is to give the Court the power to make a financial order on your divorce.

However, you are not actually making an application for them to do so.

The example I give to clients is that you are unlocking the door but not actually opening it. You need to do something else to achieve that (which I talk about here). 

So tick ‘Yes’.

13.B         If you have children tick both these boxes. 

If you don’t, just tick the ‘myself’ box.


Page 14

Section 11:  Summary of what is being applied for (the prayer) and Statement of Truth

Again, this is a slightly technical section.


14.A    If you’re in a marriage and are applying for a divorce tick both these boxes.


14.B     If you’re in a civil partnership and are applying for a dissolution tick both these boxes.

14.C     If you’re applying for a judicial separation tick this box.

(Note what you say here should mirror what you’ve said on the first page of the form (see 1.C).)

14.D    You’ll need to discuss and agree with your ex as to who will pay the costs: the  Intelligent Divorce Guide to the Divorce Process is helpful on this.

-          If you want your ex-partner to pay the costs for the divorce (currently £550) tick both boxes here.

-          If you have agreed to share the costs between you, write in by hand at the end ‘limited to half’. 

-          If you are happy to pay the full fee leave all the boxes blank. 

            Ignore the box about the co-respondent.

14.E     You need to mirror here what you’ve said on page 10 – see 13.A and 13.B.

            So iIf you have children tick both these boxes. 

If you don’t, just tick ‘The Petitioner/Applicant’ (which is you) box.



14.F     Cross out the words ‘[The Petitioner/Applicant believes]’.


14.G    Cross out whichever 2 of the 3 options don’t apply to you, leaving the correct one.

14.H    Give your full name (including any middle name(s)) and then sign and date the form.

14.I      Leave this blank (assuming you are reading this post as you don’t have a solicitor)!

Then you’re done!

I show you what to do with the Divorce Petition here

(Of course if you use Intelligent Divorce to help you agree your finances, we'll handle all your divorce paperwork free of charge - so we'll do the Divorce Petition for you!) 

Have a look at our other illustrated practical guides to the divorce process and sorting out your finances.