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Can you email divorce papers?

Well, the short answer is no. The Family Procedure Rules state that a civil partnership order or a matrimonial order such as a dissolution/divorce petition cannot be served on the Respondent (the person receiving the divorce papers) by email or fax.

In fact, there are specific rules which must be followed once divorce proceedings have commenced including the correct service of divorce papers to the respondent and this must be proved.

In most cases, the Court will post the documents to the respondent, who will then complete and return to the Court an Acknowledgement of Service form to confirm that they have received them. The Acknowledgment of Service form is there to prove that the respondent has been properly served, and the divorce/dissolution proceedings can continue.

If the respondent fails to return the Acknowledgement of Service, stalling the divorce proceedings, there are a number of options:

  1. Arrange for the personal service of the divorce/dissolution papers to the respondent;
  2. Make an application to the Court for deemed service – this can only be used if the respondent has acknowledged in writing (for example letter, email or text message) that they have received the divorce/dissolution papers.
  3. Make an application to the Court to ask for permission to serve the papers by an alternative method where there is a ‘good reason’ to do so.

Log in, break-up

However, whilst you cannot serve divorce papers by email you can now apply for divorce online with a fully digital divorce online application portal launched by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to the public in May 2018.

Speaking at the time, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, said: “Allowing divorce applications to be made online will help make sure we are best-supporting people going through an often difficult and painful time.”

And the initial take up has been positive with more than 23,000 applications made by January 2019.  The MOJ even reported 13 online divorce applications on Christmas Day.

To apply for divorce online you need to ensure you have the following prior to starting your application:

  1. Your husband or wife’s full name and address (this can be their residential or solicitors address). The court needs this so that it can send your husband/wife their divorce papers.
  2. Your original marriage certificate or certified copy (you can order one here)
  3. A debit or credit card to pay the £550 fee (you can get help if you are on benefits or a low income)

You can apply online here

The importance of legal advice

Applying online sounds simple but you need to consider the consequences of your marriage breakdown before you finalise your divorce.

It is important that you make arrangements for assets, property, money, children etc and you will need legal advice to make sure this is handled properly.

We recommend that you seek legal advice to protect yourself and your family. Decisions made quickly and without awareness of the law can often not be changed after the event.

Get in touch

You can email our Client Care Team here or call using the contact number below.  All calls and emails are strictly confidential.

I am committed to providing clear and concise advice to obtain the best possible outcome for couples separating or divorcing and in respect of children matters.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.


  1. Minnie says:

    Divorce information

  2. Court Papers says:

    Good information above! Sometimes I think people are avoiding to have to deal face to face with a spouse. Hire someone then. A completely neutral third party can serve the papers and you avoid any stress or confrontation. Thanks for sharing!!

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