How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

08 December 2020

In England and Wales there is no such thing as a “quick divorce”. How long it takes to get a divorce varies, depending on the circumstances of the divorce and any backlog in the court. A divorce could be granted in as little as 6 months, but it currently takes around 12 months in most divorce cases.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to how much time a divorce is likely to take. For example, if both people agree to the divorce, there are no children and there are no assets or finances to divide, then this simplifies things and can mean the divorce process is quicker. However, if one person disputes the divorce and/or there are finances, property or children to consider, then inevitably the divorce process can take longer.

The steps to getting a divorce

The first step that you will need to take when getting a divorce is to decide the reason for your divorce. You will need to prove “irretrievable breakdown of your marriage” citing either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years of separation or 5 years of separation as the reason for this. You can only cite 2 years' separation if both you and your spouse consent to the divorce.

The person who is applying for the divorce (the divorce petitioner) will then need to complete the papers for the divorce petition. These need to be sent to the local divorce centre, along with the marriage certificate and the court fee. The other person will then be notified of the divorce petition and they will need to decide whether or not to contest (dispute) the divorce.

If both people complete and submit their divorce papers quickly then this can speed up the process. It will still depend how busy the court is, but an uncontested divorce (not disputed) will be considerably quicker to process than a contested divorce.

How long does a contested divorce take vs an uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is a divorce that both people in the marriage agree to, with neither person disputing it. Typically an uncontested divorce will be quicker than a contested divorce.

If a divorce is uncontested, it can be a relatively straight forward process and can often be dealt with by the court on paper, meaning that there’s no need for the couple to attend court.

A contested divorce is more complex and will require the divorcing couple to attend court hearings (usually two).

For uncontested divorce cases we offer a Fixed Fee Divorce. This fixed fee service provides you with a divorce lawyer to take you through the steps to end your marriage.

How long does it take to sort out divorce finances?

If the divorcing couple own joint assets, then they will need to decide how these will be divided between them. Common things to consider include how to divide the equity of the family home, if there are any pensions that need to be shared and whether there’s spousal or child maintenance to be paid from one person to the other. This is known as the divorce financial settlement.

When a divorce is finalised, a document called a Decree Absolute will be issued. It's important to note that while the Decree Absolute will legally end your marriage, it will not necessarily end your matrimonial financial commitments to your ex-spouse.

This is where a divorce financial order comes in. This can only be done after the divorce has been finalised. This means that it does make the overall process longer, but it won't delay the completion of the divorce itself and it's a really important step to take to sever all financial ties.

Getting a divorce financial order

A divorce solicitor can help to draw up the financial order between you and your ex-spouse. This will set out the financial arrangement between you both and end any further financial committments outside of this arrangement. Once the divorce financial Settlement has been finalised, the agreement should be made legally binding by applying to the court for a Financial Order. This will mean that you and your ex's finances then become separate and neither person can make a claim against the other in the future.

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