HMCTS email guidance: family proceedings

Emailing the family court or the Family Division of the High Court

When this guidance applies
What you can file by email
What you cannot file by email
What about an application requiring a fee?
What the court can send by email
Which address to send emails to?
Form and content of emails
What the court will do with your email
Points to remember

When this guidance applies

This guidance applies when you want to send information to the court by email. It does not apply when you are uploading documents to HMCTS’s digital case management system, MyHMCTS.

What you can file by email

You are responsible for the security of the information you are sending and therefore you must assess its sensitivity and whether email is a secure enough method of communication.

If you are filing a document by email that contains a statement of truth you are reminded that you should retain the document containing the original signature. The version of the document which is filed by email must satisfy one of the following requirements:

(a)  the name of the person who has signed the statement of truth is typed under the statement of truth.

(b)  the person who has signed the statement of truth has applied a facsimile of their signature to the statement in the document by mechanical means; or

(c)  the document contains an original wet-ink signature of the person who has completed the statement of truth.

Below is a list of requirements for documents filed by email in accordance with Family Practice Direction 5B and Family Practice Direction 6A.

What you cannot file by email

Please consider this list carefully before continuing with your email correspondence with the court. Any document filed by email which is excluded by this list will be treated as not having been filed.

When printed out, a new originating application and documents submitted in support of it, including any attachments and including any documents embedded in another, must not exceed 70 pages.

For documents other than new originating applications, the printed page limit must not exceed 50 pages.

A page is one side; therefore 50 pages equals 25 pieces of paper printed on both sides.

The total size of an email including attachments must not exceed 25 megabytes.

A party must not file more than one email to take any step in a case which requires a document or documents to be filed.

What about an application requiring a fee?

Applications that carry a fee can be received by email if the above exclusions do not apply and the following conditions are met:

  • The party issuing the application quotes a fee account number; or
  • The party wishes to pay by credit/debit card.

You may also correspond with the court by email, making general enquiries about the progress of the case, or providing information to the court unless the case is being managed by the MyHMCTS case management system and you have been directed to communicate digitally through that system.

If you have sent a document by email it must not also be sent again by post.

What the court can send by email

The court will only serve or send documents by email if a party has confirmed they accept service by this method or if email service is ordered by the Judge.

In adoption proceedings the court will only communicate with local authorities, adoption agencies, and Cafcass/Cafcass Cymru by email and only where secure email addresses are provided. The court will not communicate with prospective adopters or birth parents by email in adoption proceedings.

Which addresses to send emails to?

Email addresses for courts are displayed on courtfinder

If your case is being handled at a Courts and Tribunals Service Centre (CTSC) the relevant email address will be communicated to you at the start of proceedings and should be used whilst the proceedings remain in the CTSC.

Do not use personal email addresses for court staff, judiciary, or justices’ legal advisers unless the judge or justices’ legal adviser has directed that you can do this, or a local protocol is in place.

Please ensure the business email address of the hearing centre is also copied into the correspondence in any event. That email address will have been provided to you at the start of the proceedings.

Form and content of emails

When you email the court, ensure that every document is filed as a separate attachment to a single email.

It is essential that any C8 confidential contact details form is filed as a separate attachment to such an email and clearly named, ‘confidential contact details of (name)’.

Hints and tips for users of the CTSC for divorce cases appear the end of this guidance, as it is possible for these users to email the CTSC rather than uploading documents to the MyHMCTS digital portal.

When you email the court in relation to an existing case your subject line must include the following in this order:

(a)  the case number.

(b)  the parties’ names (abbreviated if necessary).

(c)  if applicable, the date and time of any hearing.

Your email should normally include the name, telephone number and email address of the sender. If you email the court, a response will usually be sent by email. However, if you wish the court to serve you by email you must explicitly request this in writing (which can be in an email).

Attachments must be in one of the following formats and the total content of the email (including any attachments/ documents at links) must not exceed 25MB:

Document file types

Rich text format files (.rtf)

Plain/Formatted Text Files (.txt)

Hypertext document files (.htm)

Microsoft Word viewer/reader (.doc) (minimum Word 97 format)

Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf) minimum version viewer 4

Spreadsheet file types

Hypertext document files (.htm)

General and compressed file types

Zipped, compressed file types (.zip, gz,.tgz, .tar)

Graphics fille type

Joint Photographic Experts Group0 (ISO 10918) (.jpeg)

Vector graphics file type

Scalable Vector Graphis (.svg)

What will the court do with your email?

The court will check your email and respond to your email. If further action is required by the court, then a response might not be sent until after that action has been taken.

A document, other than an application, which has been e-mailed to the court is filed with or otherwise received by the court on the date and at the time that HMCTS e-mail software records the email as received, provided that the email has been sent in accordance with Practice Direction 5B.

When you file documents by email you must still comply with any rule or Practice Direction requiring the document to be served on any other person.

This guidance does not replace Family Practice Direction 5B or 6A.

Points to remember


Email is not a secure medium. Any message or reply to your message could be intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear this in mind when deciding whether to send an email.

When a time limit applies it is the parties’ responsibility to ensure that the document is filed on time.

If you have any queries or require assistance, please contact the appropriate court or CTSC.

CJS secure email service

If you are a solicitor, you can sign up to CJS secure email (cjsm). This is a service currently provided by MOJ ICT.

cjsm is currently free for solicitors to sign up to and use and allows users to send and receive information up to and including data which a security marking of Official Sensitive. It is not available to the general public.

Emails transmitted via the cjsm network and other equivalent secure Government networks can send and receive from cjsm accounts.

More information about signing up to this service can be found at www.cjsm.

Hints and tips for emails to the CTSC to ensure they are sorted into the correct folder.

This is for emails to the CTSC in Divorce, Dissolution and Judicial Separation cases only.

For applications issued before 6th April 2022, the email address for the CTSC is

For applications issued after on or after 6th April 2022, the email address for the CTSC is

The email sorting system does not/cannot look at the attachment for the name of the attachment, it looks at the subject line and the first couple of lines of the email body.

You need to ensure your subject title contains what the email is in relation to and the case number you are emailing about.

So, for example, Re: 16-digit reference number – marriage certificate

For this example, the email system should place this into the subfolder for marriage certificates.

If you are sending in a D11 you need to state that it is a D11 application but also what the application is for, so Alternative service, Deemed Service. This ensures it goes into the application subfolder. The subject does need to contain application as well as D11, D13B, D89 etc.

If you are sending in a Notice of acting (or NOA or NOC or Notice of change) you do need to put notice of acting within the subject or body of the email and not just label the attachment as NOA.

If you are sending in an acknowledgement of service, you need to put in AOS or acknowledgement of service in the body of the email or subject. For applications issued on or after 6th April 2022, you should be completing the AOS through the portal. If you are not on the case, you can ask the CTSC to add you to the case by sending a notice of acting to them. If you are a solicitor registered with MyHMCTS and send a paper AOS in this could get rejected by the CTSC as the portal should be used.

If you have a disputed divorce on an application issued on or after 6th April 2022 or a defended divorce on an application issued before 6th April 2022, old law, you need to clearly identify this in the subject header and also the body of the email. This is to enable these to go into the relevant subfolder and be actioned at a speedier rate.

If you have a litigation friend application, you need to clearly identify this in the subject title and body of the email and you need to ensure that you provided and made mention to the FP9 form.

Form B- you need to clearly mark these out as Form B in the subject and body of the email as these need to be actioned ASAP and put on the file to delay any Final order applications.

Decree Absolute and Final order – this MUST be put on the subject line as these need to be actioned within 24 hours of receipt.