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Applying for a divorce

You can apply for a divorce at any point in your marriage, except in the first year.  

You need to make sure you have the following forms in order to start your application:

  • Form 2 - Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF)

  • Form 3 - Statement of Arrangements for Children (Word doc) (PDF)

All children under the age of 16, or over 16 if still in full time education, must be declared. This includes children of the family.

You need to complete these forms, make 2 copies (3 if you are naming a co-respondent in the case of adultery) of the Initial Application and 2 copies of the Statement of Arrangements for Children and send the original and copies to the court.

If you need any additional help filling in the application form, please see:

What do I do with my application?

You can also submit an application for divorce through an advocate.

It is not always necessary to have an advocate when applying for a divorce order. However, you will find it useful to have taken some legal advice before starting your application if:

  • you do not know if you have the grounds (reasons) for a divorce;

  • the respondent is not likely to agree to a divorce;

  • you have not come to an agreement as to who the children should live with;

  • you have not agreed about any financial support for the children or yourself, or not agreed about splitting up any property.

Please note that courts staff cannot give you any advice about what to put in your application.

You should ask a member of the courts staff how much the application will cost or refer to the fees section.

The Isle of Man High Court has the jurisdiction to hear an application for a divorce order only if either of the parties to the marriage:

  • is domiciled in the Island on the date when the application was filed

  • was habitually a resident on the Island throughout the period of one year before the date that the application was filed.

Yes.

You have to be able to prove to the court that you have valid reasons (grounds) to say that the marriage is at an end. The term the court uses is that the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down.'

You will need:

  • your full name and address

  • your husband/wife's full name and address

  • both your occupations

  • the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate (NOT a photocopy)

  • the full names and dates of birth of any living children of the marriage (including adopted children, but NOT fostered children)

  • the name and address of any person you are alleging your husband or wife has committed adultery with, if you wish to name them.

Court staff can provide you with information, tell you about court forms and procedures, but they cannot give you legal advice or answer questions like "Should I claim financial support?" or "Do I have proper reasons for divorce?" You should seek legal advice from an advocate.

To begin divorce proceedings you will need:

  • 2 (3 if alleging adultery) copies of Form 2 - Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF)

  • 2 copies of Form 3 - Statement of Arrangements for Children (Word doc) (PDF).

Accompanying your forms there should be a guidance booklet to help you complete them. 

Initial Application

What will I need to include in my application?

  • your full name and address

  • your husband/wife's full name and address

  • your and your husband/wife's occupation

  • whether or not the court has jurisdiction (domiciled or habitually resident on the Isle of Man)

  • the grounds for your divorce application (adultery, unreasonable behaviour etc) with a brief statement outlining the grounds. The court will not say the marriage has 'irretrievably broken down' unless you can prove one of the following facts:

    • the respondent has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them

    • the respondent has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them

    • the respondent has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 2 years before applying for a divorce

    • both parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years (2 years separation), and the respondent consents to a divorce: or

    • the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 5 years before applying for a divorce.

  • the full names and dates of birth of any living children of the marriage (including adopted children, but NOT fostered children), no matter their age

  • the name and address of any person with whom your husband/wife has committed adultery with (the co-respondent), if you wish to name them.

You will also need the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate, not a photocopy, and the court fee.

You must also decide what you wish to apply for, whether it be just simply having the marriage ended (dissolved) or you wish to apply for any financial provision (e.g. maintenance). Note that applications for financial provision for you and any children are dealt with as separate applications. You need to submit separate application forms for these. More information about financial provision applications can be found here.

If a question on the form has multiple options, rule out the ones that do not apply to you, or that you do not wish to choose.

Statement of Arrangements for Children

This form sets out the current, and any future arrangements for any children under the age of 16, and between 16 and 18 if still in full time education.

You must also state if there is a maintenance order in force and if you will be applying for a court order regarding maintenance for the children.

It is always best if you and your spouse can agree arrangements for any children without the need for a court order. It will save time and money as well as providing a more amicable settlement for the children.

Note this is only a statement, not an application.

What happens when I have given/sent the forms to court?

When the court receives your completed application, it will process it and send a copy of it to the respondent (and co-respondent if you are claiming adultery).

If there is a mistake or a problem with your application, the court will contact you and your application will be returned to be amended. To avoid this make sure you fill the forms in carefully.

Some common mistakes you should avoid are:

  • spelling names differently on any certificates and the application form

  • incorrect dates of birth or names of the children

  • not completing all the questions.

Taking the time to fill in the form correctly will save a lot of time.

How will I know when the respondent receives the application?

The court will send you/your advocate a certified copy of the respondent’s acknowledgement of service form as soon as it is received, along with the forms for the next stage.

Once the court has received your completed divorce application, it will send a copy to the respondent with 2(3) copies of Form 6 - Acknowledgement of Service. The respondent then has 14 days to file the acknowledgement of service with the court.

You will then be sent a certified copy of the respondent’s acknowledgement of service with:

  • Application for Directions at trial (special procedure)

  • Form 7 - Affidavit by Applicant in Support of Application Under S.2 (2) (different form depending on what grounds you applied for divorce on):

In this case the respondent has agreed to your application, so you must then submit the application for directions at trial (special procedure) and affidavit in support of application forms with the court.

The matter will then be placed on the special procedure list by the Chief Registrar.

What if the respondent wants to defend my application?

If the respondent intends to defend your application you should seek legal advice.

The respondent has 14 calendar days from receipt of the application to complete and return the acknowledgement of service to the court. The court will send you/your advocate a certified copy of the respondent’s acknowledgement of service within 5 working days of it being received, together with the forms for the next stage. If, however, you do not receive a response, please wait until at least 21 calendar days have elapsed since you received notification that the court sent the divorce application to the respondent. You can contact us by email or phone (+44 (0) 1624 686163) to confirm that no acknowledgement of service has been received.

Please note, if the respondent resides in a different country, there may be a significant delay in post going out and coming back to us. If this is the case, you may wish to allow more time.

What can I do if the respondent does not return the acknowledgement of service?

NB - if the grounds for the divorce are 2 years separation with the respondent’s consent, they must acknowledge service and answer ‘yes’ to the question “Do you consent to a divorce order being made?”. If the respondent will not do so, you may wish to consider filing an application under amended grounds. There will be an additional fee for doing so.

Once the court confirms that no acknowledgement of service has been received, you can request a duplicate set of papers be posted to you for no extra fee. It will then be up to you or your advocate to arrange personal service of the papers on the respondent. If the respondent is in the Isle of Man, this will need to be via the Coroner in the area that the respondent lives. If the respondent is in the United Kingdom, this can be via a process server. The court will require a Certificate of Personal Service for the case to proceed.

Proof of Service

Once you have proof of service, you may wish to consider making an application for what is known as ‘deemed service’. An affidavit should be filed in accordance with Rule 12(6) of the Rules of the High Court (Matrimonial Proceedings) 2004. This will need to be accompanied by a covering letter, which will be considered as your application, or using the prescribed general application notice HC8A.

This type of application will be subject to a fee, the current Fees Order can be found here. Usually, the court would make an order that the respondent should pay these additional costs. Please ensure that you or your advocate have made this clear either at section 11 of your initial application or within your application for deemed service.

The application will need to set out the circumstances; for example if the respondent has been trying to purposely evade service or that the Coroner or process server was unable to locate the Respondent and posted the papers through their letterbox. Evidence such as Certificates of Service and a statement from the Coroner or process server will need to be attached to the affidavit required in support of your application for deemed service. The affidavit must be sworn or declared before a Commissioner for Oaths or Notary Public. This can be done at the court office for a small fee. If your application for deemed service has not been successful, Courts staff will inform you of the reason.

When an Order that the respondent has been deemed to have been served with the divorce application has been issued, court staff will send you a copy of this order together with the papers to progress to the next stage of the divorce, which is applying for the provisional order.

Directions for Trial (special procedure) Undefended applications

If the respondent has submitted their acknowledgement of service form stating that they do not intend to defend the case, the court will send you an Application for Directions for Trial (Special Procedure).

If the respondent is not going to defend your application, you should then submit the application for directions for trial (special procedure) along with your affidavit of evidence.

The court will give directions for trial if it is satisfied that:

  • a copy of the application and any subsequent pleading has been duly served on every party

  • if no notice of intention to defend has been given, that the time limit for giving such notice has expired.

What goes in the Affidavit of Evidence?

Where the respondent has chose not to defend the application, or consents on the 2-year separation rule, unless otherwise directed, there must be an affidavit of evidence submitted with the application for directions for trial. This affidavit must contain information required by Form 7 - Affidavit by Applicant in Support of Application Under S.2 (2) (different form depending on what grounds you applied for divorce on): together with correlative evidence on which you intend to rely. This is to verify the contents of any statement of arrangements that you have filed.

This affidavit needs to be sworn. This can be done either through an advocate, or at the public counter in the courthouse. Be aware that there is a fee for having an affidavit sworn. Any additional documents that you intend to use as evidence (known as exhibits) also need to be sworn.

The Chief Registrar will then enter the proceedings on the ‘special procedure list’.

Directions appointments

Directions appointments are the initial hearings where the Deemster can set out any instructions he/she wants to give.

At a directions hearing, the Deemster may give directions in regards to:

  • the future course of proceedings, e.g. whether any more directions hearings will be required;

  • discovery; or

  • any other proceedings connected to your divorce proceedings such as Financial Provision, or arrangements for children of the family.

Several directions hearings may be necessary to enable the Deemster to have all the relevant information available to him/her so he can make his/her decision.

At this stage the divorce application is the only one being decided. Although you have submitted a statement of arrangements for children, this is only a statement. Any Financial Provision or arrangements for children are separate applications and are dealt with separately. Unless the court raises concerns under s25 (1) of the Matrimonial Proceedings Act 2003, your Divorce proceedings cannot be held up by any other proceedings regarding children.

After you have been issued with your provisional decree, you must wait at least 6 weeks before applying to make it final (unless the court has made a special order allowing you to apply sooner).

How do I apply to make the provisional order final?

You need to get Form 9 - Application For Provisional Order To Be Made Final (Word doc) (PDF) and submit it to the court.

When the court receives your application, the Chief Registrar will search the court records to make sure he is satisfied that:

  • there has been no application for revocation, re-hearing, appeal from the respondent, or the dismissal of an application is still pending;

  • no order extending the time for an application to the Staff of Government Division (appeals) to appeal against the order or a dismissal of the order;

  • no application from the above still pending;

  • the court has complied with s 25(1) of the Matrimonial Proceedings Act 2003 (orders affecting children);

  • that the court has complied with s.9 of the 2003 Act (special protection for respondent in 2 or 5 year separation cases).

How long have I got to submit my application?

You have up until 12 months after your provisional order is issued to apply for it to be made final. If you apply after 12 months you must:

  • give reasons for the delay;

  • state whether you and the respondent have lived together in the last 12 months;

  • state whether or not the wife has given birth to any child since the provisional order was issued, whether or not it is a child of the family.

When the Chief Registrar is content, he will issue a final order, which will include a statement of the precise time it was issued, and will then send both you and the respondent a certified copy. A copy will also be kept on file.

Any additional copies of the final order can be obtained for a fee from the General Registry.

What can I apply for?

In any application for a divorce order, an applicant (or a respondent to the divorce if they file an answer claiming financial provision) can apply for:

  • an order for maintenance pending suit;

  • a financial provision order;

  • a property adjustment order; and/or

  • a pension sharing order.

What form will I need to apply for financial provision?

You can make an application for any of the above in paragraph 11 of Form 2 - Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF) when you submit it to court. The respondent to the divorce application can also make an application for any of the above.

If an application was not made in the initial application or answer, it may subsequently be made:

  • by the leave of the court in Form 12 – Application for Financial Provision (Word doc) (PDF);

  • if you and you spouse/ex-spouse both agree with the terms, without leave in Form 12 – Application for Financial Provision (Word doc) (PDF).

If you have stated in your initial application that you intend to apply for any Financial Provision, you must then submit Form 13 – Notice of Intention to proceed with Application for Financial Provision made in Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF).

How do I apply for Financial Provision?

You must serve a copy of either Form 12 – Application for Financial Provision (Word doc) (PDF) or Form 13 – Notice of Intention to proceed with Application for Financial Provision made in Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF) on both the court and the respondent to the application.

If the application is not by consent, you must serve along with either Form 12 or Form 13 an affidavit containing full particulars of your property and income and the facts you intend to rely upon in support of your application, on both the court and the respondent.

If you are applying for a property adjustment order, your affidavit must also contain full particulars of the property in respect of the application is made

What happens if the respondent and I agree by consent to an order?

If you are filing an application for a consent order, you must also file with the application:-

  • 2 copies of a draft consent order in the terms sought, 1 of which must be signed by you and the respondent; and

  • a statement of information (which may be more than one document) which shall include:

    1. the duration of the marriage, the age of both parties and of any minors or dependent children of the family;

    2. an estimate of the approximate value of the capital resources and net income of both parties and any minor child of the family;

    3. what arrangements are intended for the accommodation of each of the parties and any minor child of the family;

    4. whether either party has remarried or intends to remarry or cohabit with another person;

    5. if the order includes a pension sharing annex, a statement confirming the person responsible for the pension has been served with documents under rule 67(11) and that no objection has been received within 14 days;

    6. where the terms provide for a transfer of property, a statement confirming that any mortgagee of that property has been served with a notice of the application, and no objection has been received; and

    7. any other especially significant matters.

What happens after I have served my application and affidavit?

After you have served all documents on both the court and the respondent, the respondent to the application must file and serve an affidavit in answer containing full particulars of his property and income.

Directions hearings/Hearing

On or after the filing of an application in Form 12 – Application for Financial Provision (Word doc) (PDF) or a notice in Form 13 – Notice of Intention to proceed with Application for Financial Provision made in Initial Application (Word doc) (PDF), a directions appointment will be fixed by the judge.

Notice of this appointment must be given by you to every party to the application.

At the eventual trial hearing the judge:

  • shall subject to rule 64 of the Rules of the High Court (Matrimonial Proceedings) 2004 , investigate the allegations made in support of and in answer to the application;

  • may take evidence orally;

  • may at any stage order the attendance of any person for the purpose of being examined or cross-examined and order the discovery and production of any document or require further affidavits.

Be aware that multiple directions hearings may be necessary before the final hearing.

Open Proposals

Normally no less than 14 days from the date fixed by the court for the final hearing, you should (unless the court has directed otherwise) serve on the court and the respondent an open statement which sets out concise details, including amounts involved, of the orders which he/she proposes to ask the court to make.

Normally the respondent will then no more than 7 days after being served with your open proposals, to serve his/her own open proposals.

The judge’s decision

The judge shall, after completing any investigation under rule 61 of the Rules of the High Court (Matrimonial Proceedings) 2004, make such order as he/she thinks just.

Pending the final determination of the application, a judge may make an interim order upon such terms as he/she thinks just.

Application to vary/revoke a Financial Provision Order

Over time your circumstances may change: you may need more maintenance money to cover any additional costs that arise, or you may decide that you do not need as much as is being currently paid.

If you wish to change the amount you are being paid in maintenance then you need to fill in, and file and serve on both the court and the other party Form FB2 – Application for Variation of Order(Word doc) (PDF).

The circumstances when this may be necessary include:

  • loss of your job;

  • you now have a better paid job;

  • you have a long term illness that is preventing you from working;

  • you have remarried, or are now co-habiting with another partner;

  • the child's educational needs have changed;

  • the parent looking after the child has changed or the child has been taken into care.

If the respondent’s circumstances have changed, you can also apply for a variation of the original order. The circumstances where this might be necessary may include:

  • the respondent got a new, better paid job;

  • the respondent has re-married or is co-habiting with another person and their financial burden has reduced;

  • the respondent has sold the former matrimonial home;

  • the respondent has come into a large sum of money (e.g. an inheritance);

  • you have found out about some undeclared income the respondent has been enjoying.

This application will need to be submitted along with an Affidavit of means which will include details of changes since the original order was made.

Please remember that this section of the website can only provide you with a general idea of what is likely to happen. The website cannot explain everything about court rules, costs and procedures which may affect different matters in different ways. Court staff can provide you with information, tell you about court forms and procedures, but they cannot give you legal advice. You should seek legal advice from an advocate. A list of Manx advocates is available through the Isle of Man Law Society .

Page last updated on 23 August 2018