5 Things That Cause Delays To a Divorce
The divorce process can often seem like a waiting game.
Even if everything goes smoothly, it normally takes at least 4 – 6 months between filing for divorce and obtaining a decree absolute.
However, there are various factors that can cause delays, some of which we will consider in this blog.
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Are the divorce courts still delayed due to COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact upon the court system in general and led to backlogs in many areas of legal process.
Any divorces which involved court appearances or litigation have been heavily delayed as a result of court closures and staff shortages.
According to the most recent figures published by the Ministry of Justice, recovery from the impact of Covid-19 has been seen across family court activity data during the last quarter.
Nevertheless, “impacts on timeliness measures continue to be felt … with work continuing to address the impact to the family justice system”. So although the situation is improving, delays can still be expected.
The good news is online divorces – such as those provided by Divorce Online – have been far less impacted by COVID-19.
What causes delays in a divorce?
Aside from the pandemic, there are various issues that can lead to delays in the divorce process, including:
1. Acknowledgement of service not returned
One of the first steps in getting a divorce is for one divorcing party to complete a matrimonial order which essentially comprises the divorce application.
Once this has been submitted and approved, the court will send a copy to the other spouse along with an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form, who must respond within 8 days.
If the form is not returned – whether intentionally or not – this can lead to delays in obtaining a divorce.
2. Locating an ex-spouse when you don’t have an address
In order for the court to send out an acknowledgement of service form, the person submitting the matrimonial order must include the address of their spouse.
In the case of an acrimonious divorce – or where there has been a long period of separation – the relevant address might not be known. Reasonable efforts should be made to find out the address but, if this proves fruitless, it may be possible for the court to still proceed with the divorce.
Further information on how to divorce a missing spouse can be found on our blog to ensure you have all of the information you need.
3. Arguments arising about the allegations in the divorce petition
This is no longer an issue. Although a reason for divorce must be specified in the divorce petition there is now only one ‘ground for divorce’ (irretrievable breakdown of the marriage). See No-fault Divorce
4. Complex financial negotiations
In general, the fewer assets the more straightforward the divorce. Where either spouse has significant assets, this can result in complicated and protracted financial negotiations.
For example, it can take a long time to ascertain the full extent of any assets tied up in business or hidden in complex trusts. Reaching an agreement on the distribution of large assets can end up in court which adds delays of several months.
5. Rising costs of divorce lawyers
The longer it takes to reach a divorce settlement agreement, the more both parties need to spend on lawyers.
This can end up depleting the matrimonial pot. Rising legal costs can further entrench the positions of either spouse, in a cycle that leads to even higher costs and further delays.
No-Fault Divorce Is Now Divorce Law
The divorce law in England and Wales has changed to give way for a no-fault divorce. This means you no longer need to wait for a period of 2 years of separation or blame one party for the breakdown of your marriage. What’s more, it is no longer possible for your spouse to contest the divorce, allowing the divorce to proceed without friction or additional costs.
Key changes to know about No-Fault Divorce
Here is a breakdown of the key divorce law changes that came into effect on 6 April 2022.
- Couples can make a joint application for divorce – The first change is that divorce proceedings no longer must be initiated by one partner alone. Instead, a couple can make a joint application. While that may seem like a technical measure, supporters of the new law argue that it removes an in-built imbalance that undermines attempts to split amicably.
- Minimum of 20 weeks cooling off period – The law lays down a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the conditional order, and another six weeks between the conditional and final orders. That means that even the quickest divorce will take at least six months to complete.
- Divorce Settlements – It is recommended that the mandatory 20 weeks reflection period is used to discuss and agree arrangements like a financial settlement if the split is inevitable.
- Divorce can be granted without blame – The previous list of five permissible ways to prove the breakdown of marriage has been replaced by a single mechanism. Now all that’s required is for at least one spouse to provide a legal statement to say the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This statement counts as conclusive evidence and cannot be contested.
- Legal Terminology – Some of the terms used in the divorce process have been updated. For example, decree nisi is now called conditional order and decree absolute is called final order.
How can Divorce-Online help you today?
Use our online divorce services to obtain a divorce without spending thousands of pounds.
There isn’t a simpler or more cost-effective way to end your marriage than by using our online divorce services. Find out more about how we can help you: