How long does it take to get a divorce?
Well, how long is a piece of string?
It’s so dependent on so many factors that it’s impossible to simply put a one size fits all timeframe on divorce.
But it’s a common misconception that divorces ALL take years.
Let’s start simply – if both parties in a divorce agree on it and the reasons why then legally finalising the divorce should take 4-6 months.
Now, if there are issues around money, property, and childcare arrangements, then this will probably take a bit longer.
On average, a divorce in the UK takes around a year to be finalised.
What does getting a divorce mean?
Simply put, the divorce process ends your marriage.
You can only get a divorce if you’ve been married for at least a year and if you or your partner don’t agree to a divorce then it’ll take a whole lot more time and cost a whole lot more money than if you both agree…
The law in England & Wales when it comes to divorce
You should always try to agree on your reason for divorce with your partner – it’ll make things A LOT easier.
There are 5 facts when it comes to grounds for divorce to illustrate the breakdown of your marriage, which are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- You’ve lived apart for 2 years and both agree to divorce
- You’ve lived apart for 5 years, and your partner doesn’t agree to a divorce
If the factor you’re relying on for your grounds for divorce is the fact that you and your partner have been separated for 2 years, then you’ll need their consent to divorce.
If not, then you can’t rely on this as grounds for divorce.
If your former partner disagrees with the divorce, sometimes known as a defended divorce, or you fail to agree on who’ll pay the divorce fee and associated costs, you might need legal advice or need to go to court.
If you’re relying on 5 years separation without the permission of your partner, then it’s unlikely to require a court, but you should get legal advice.
What are the main stages of the divorce process?
We know the process of divorce can seem pretty daunting at first, so here’s a step-by-step list of how it works – to make things easier:
- File a divorce petition
- Acknowledgement of service – This confirms your spouse has received the divorce papers, they’re happy with the grounds for divorce, and whether they agree to or wish to contest the divorce.
- Application for Decree Nisi – This states the court can’t see a reason why you cannot obtain a divorce
- Application for Decree Absolute – If the judge accepts your reasons for divorce, then 6 weeks and 1 day later, you can apply for Decree Absolute (the final decree) and legally finalise your divorce.
In April 2022 you will also be able to apply for a No Fault Divorce
Sorting out financial issues can be a sticking point in divorce, and depending on your circumstances, then could be a significant point of contention.
If you’ve agreed to divide any assets, then you’ll need to obtain a financial court order by having a solicitor draw up a consent order to document the divorce settlement you’ve come to.
Is there anything I can do to speed up the process?
Most of the delays in the divorce process happen right at the start.
That’s because couples try to resolve issues in their relationship, and the average person will try for an additional 18 months to save their marriage from breakdown before deciding to divorce.
There’s not really any way around that, and every relationship is unique, so prescribing a cure-all isn’t an option here.
But once the process is underway, there are a few things you can do to keep things moving along…
- Don’t make any mistakes in official documents. It seems obvious but by seeking legal advice, you can avoid any costly errors that could slow down the divorce process.
- Agree on your reason for divorce with your partner – if your ex-spouse contests the grounds for divorce then the case is more likely to go to court.
- Get everything done on time. Getting that paperwork sent off on time will stop the process from dragging on.
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