Update August 2016
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The divorce process in England and Wales is relatively quick and there are ways to get a divorce quickly, but there are implications to consider and reasons why a quick divorce now may not be the best option for you.
However there is one main thing that will help you to get a quick divorce. This is cooperation from your ex regarding filling forms in and sending back all the required information. This is one of the main reasons that a divorce can drag on.
The divorce process used to rely on the speed of the court, however now there are regional centres in place which deal solely with the processing of divorce paperwork rather than it being sent directly to a specific court to process. These new regional centres have been designed to help speed up the administrative work that is present in the divorce process.
If you can get all the necessary documents in place and the process working to its optimum, you could get the decree absolute through in about 10 weeks. You should be aware though, that there is an enforced period of six weeks between the issue of the Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute, which accounts for much of the 10 week period.
In short marriages, where you have been with your ex for a short period of time and did not live together beforehand, there could be some real benefits to divorcing quickly. Where the financial settlement is straightforward and there are no children, there is not much to delay the divorce process.
However, if your marriage was a long marriage, classed as more than 10 years together and includes any time you live together before marriage, it may not be a good idea to get divorced before your financial settlement has been agreed and all the details about your children, if you have any, have been discussed and agreed. By agreeing all of these details and your divorce at the same time, you could bring any orders to the Court simultaneously for agreement which can save time and stress for you, your children and your ex.
There are certain circumstances where it will be very difficult to get a quick divorce. If the relationship between you and your ex is not that friendly, this could slow things down, particularly if you are asking for a quick divorce so you can remarry. This could result in your ex dragging their heels throughout the divorce process. They can adversely affect the speed of your divorce as you are often reliant on them to produce documents, complete and return forms and produce evidence for the divorce process.
Another issue that may slow down is getting the correct paperwork. In order to file your divorce petition you need to have your original marriage certificate or a certified copy. Locating this may be a problem and could result in a delay in filing the divorce papers with the Court.
One final issue that can really hamper your chances of getting a quick divorce is not knowing where your ex-spouse is. In order to get a divorce, you have to give you ex-spouse the paperwork for the divorce. This is known as serving the divorce petition. If you don't know where your ex is then it is very difficult to serve them with the divorce petition – in fact you can't until you find them.
You will need to send the petition to their last known address and then the Court will inform you if it is returned unopened. If this happens, you will need to use all the resources you have to speak to their family, friends, children and any other available avenues. Once these have been exhausted and if you have still not located your ex, you can complete a form called 'Statement to Dispense with Service of Divorce Petition' which will allow you to get divorced without locating your ex. The Court will decide if you have done all you can to find them and either grant your request or not. This process will really slow down your chances of getting a quick divorce.
If you are using a Divorce Solicitor, make sure you explain that you would like a quick divorce and ask them what they can do to speed up the divorce process for you. Remember though, there is an enforced waiting period of six weeks between the Court issuing the Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute.