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How Long Does a Divorce Really Take In the UK?

The short answer is 7-8 months. The more nuanced answer is, it depends. Learn more about divorce timescales in 2024 in this article.

Table Of Contents

    In this article, you will learn how long a divorce will likely take you based on your situation.

    As well as this, you will learn how to avoid delays and to get divorced as quickly as possible.

    No, you can’t get divorced in 12-16 weeks like some believe.

    No, you cannot get an automatic divorce after a long separation. You must apply for a divorce, irrespective of your length of separation.

    Yes, the divorce process is slow and boring regardless of how you decide to file for divorce.

    Yes, you can do certain things to speed up how quickly you can get divorced. Decisions you make and actions you take can also cause delays to divorce proceedings.

    If you’re in a hurry to get divorced, the best article for you to read is on how to get a quick divorce online for under £250.

    Now, let’s look at divorce timescales in more detail.

    How long does a divorce take? Backed by Government figures

    The average timescale for a divorce in the UK from Application to Final Order (start-to-finish) is now roughly 7-8 months.

    The Ministry of Justice reports on divorce timescales quarterly. The most recent data shows that the mean average is 62 weeks.

    Does this mean my divorce will take 62 weeks to finalise?

    No, it’s unlikely. Especially, when you choose our online divorce service for £249.

    In our experience (having processed over 150,000 cases), we have yet to see a client case take 62 weeks to finalise.

    Often, the answer to your question about divorce timescales will be: it depends.

    You can request a free callback or speak with our team on 0179 384 029 for a custom divorce timeline.

    How long does an online divorce take?

    An online divorce is the fastest route to get divorced.

    In most cases, you can complete an online divorce from start to finish within seven to eight months.

    In comparison with alternative options, such as do-it-yourself or instructing solicitors, it’s a much simpler and quicker solution.

    When you compare this to the time it takes to complete a do-it-yourself divorce, it’s night and day.

    The majority of people undertaking a DIY divorce will experience delays.

    Alongside delays, most experience high levels of stress. Dealing with a legal procedure is hard.

    It can become too much for some people, especially when coupled with a busy life. This is why thousands of people choose to get divorced online.

    Why does a do-it-yourself divorce take longer than a divorce online?

    If you’re selling a home, setting up a business, or renovating your garden, it’s usually quicker to hire professionals than to learn how to do it yourself.

    The same can be said for divorce. Here are the main reasons why a do-it-yourself divorce is slower than getting a divorce online:

    • Busy lives – Most people lead busy lives with work and/or children. Life can often get in the way of responding to the court, leading to prolonged divorce proceedings.
    • Completing paperwork is slower – You will need to spend time reading the divorce forms and understanding what information is required at various stages.
    • Errors in completing details – You are completing legal forms. The legal terminology is often not the most straightforward. If mistakes are made, this can cause delays.
    • Understanding legal procedure – It can take time to understand what you need to do and when it needs to be done. This time leads to longer divorce proceedings.
    • Dealing with your spouse – If a spouse ignores the divorce for whatever reason then further actions are required by the applicant.

    For these reasons, a DIY divorce is not the quickest way to get divorced.

    To learn more about the differences between divorce online and DIY divorce, read our detailed comparison – Comparison of Divorce-Online vs DIY Divorce.

    What can I do to speed up the divorce process?

    As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are actions you can take that can speed up the divorce process.

    Do the things below before starting divorce proceedings for a smoother and quicker resolution to your application:

    • Ensure you have an address for your spouse – The court requires an address for your spouse, so divorce papers can be served to them.
    • Seek cooperation from your spouse – Spouses can often ignore the divorce papers causing delays. If possible, speak to your partner first before applying for divorce.
    • Submitting accurate details – Making mistakes on the divorce forms is certain to lead to longer divorce timescales. Check your forms before submitting them.
    • Find your marriage certificate – Your marriage certificate must be in English. You will need details from your marriage certificate to get divorced.

    Chart – Divorce Timescales

    Divorce Timescales Chart - Official Figures

    Decree Nisi
    Decree Absolute

    Average timescales


    28 weeks


    26 weeks


    36 weeks


    39 weeks

    Average timescales


    52 weeks


    45 weeks


    61 weeks


    64 weeks

    So, while it’s fine to say a divorce is likely to take around 6 months, is it not better to look at how long it’s actually taking to pass through court?

    The figures provided quarterly by the Government show that those applying for a divorce this year could be waiting 60+ weeks to receive the Final Order, which is twice as long as most other articles claim.

    Want To Avoid a Prolonged Divorce? Speak to our friendly team on Live Chat for quick and reliable answers, call us on 01793 384 029, or request a free callback. 👋 Chat with us now!

    What you’ll need to apply for divorce

    Firstly, you need to know what requirements there are to start a divorce since the introduction of the no fault divorce law in April 2022.

    To get an uncontested divorce through the court you’ll need to:

    • Have been married for at least 12 months
    • Have your marriage certificate (or certified copy of the original)
    • Know the email address & residential address of your ex-spouse
    • Pay the court fee of £593 (unless you’re exempt)

    Unlike the previous divorce law where the majority of petitioners used unreasonable behaviour as the grounds for divorce, you now simply need to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown on the D8 divorce form.

    Although your former partner cannot contest the divorce, you must still provide the court with an address where a copy of the divorce papers can be sent.

    The divorce process does not change irrespective of whether you hire divorce solicitors, get divorced online, or opt for a DIY divorce.

    Quick question

    How long does a divorce take without an address?

    If you have been separated for many years and you don’t know where your spouse lives, it will likely take you longer to get divorced.

    A divorce when you don’t have an address for your spouse can take nine to twelve months to finalise.

    My partner lives abroad, how long will my divorce take?

    This can depend on jurisdiction among other things.

    If you are a UK citizen, you can apply for divorce through the UK’s courts.

    You may require legal advice as an international divorce is not always as simple. You should expect a divorce when your partner lives abroad to take nine to twelve months.

    Can a spouse drag out a divorce?

    Yes, a spouse can drag out a divorce, but not in the same way they used to.

    No-fault divorce law all but removed the ability for spouses to contest a divorce. So, in that sense, a spouse is unlikely to be able to drag out a divorce for a long time.

    What they can do, however, is ignore the divorce papers. If the divorce papers are ignored, it’s likely to add 2-4 weeks to the overall time scale as additional hoops may be required to continue.

    Do you have to go to court to get a divorce?

    You will not need to attend court in person to get divorced in all but 0.1% of cases.

    In-person court appearances are usually only for high-profile cases where spouses have a high net worth and cannot agree on the division of money and assets.

    If you’re filing for divorce, you can be confident that 99.9% of all applications can be completed without any need for court appearances.

    Divorce Timeline – What does the divorce process look like?

    The divorce process is largely a ‘paperwork’ exercise with various stages that each requires a separate application to the court.

    Step 1 – Submit D8 Divorce Petition

    To start a divorce application, you need to complete a divorce petition form and submit it to the court. Divorce applications are now digital (Since 6 April 2022), but our easy-to-answer questionnaire makes confusing forms easy to understand.

    The divorce petition is the main document in divorce proceedings and includes basic personal details, marriage details, and a statement of irretrievable breakdown (previously the grounds for divorce).

    You must ensure that all details on this form are correct before filing it, as your application will go to the back of the queue when you re-submit it, causing unnecessary delays.”

    Step 2 – Acknowledgment of Service

    The court will send your partner a copy of the divorce petition usually by email and a form known as an acknowledgment of service. Your partner has 14 days to complete and return the AOS to the court. If they fail to respond, you can continue with the divorce undefended, however, the procedure becomes more complex.”

    Step 3 – The Conditional Order

    Before moving on to the next stage, the new divorce law has introduced a 20-week reflection period. Meaning such matters as child arrangements and the division of any money or assets could be discussed.

    Only after this 20-week period can you apply to the court to proceed with the divorce.

    If the court approves your divorce application, they will issue you with a Certificate of Entitlement to confirm the date of your conditional order. This typically takes a few weeks.

    Once the court has granted you the divorce, you enter into what is known as a 6-week ‘cooling off’ period before being able to move forward.

    This period is intended for couples to submit their financial agreement to the court to rule on.

    Step 4 – Application for the Final Order

    To end proceedings, you must apply to the court to legally end your marriage. This will usually be granted within 24 hours.

    This order legally ends your marriage and enables you to remarry.

    Overall, taking into account the mandatory waiting periods of 20-weeks and 6-weeks, you should expect your divorce to complete within 6-7 months.

    Step-by-step guide to applying for a divorce online

    How long does it take to get a financial settlement?

    Reaching a financial settlement in divorce is often a complex and stressful matter.

    The time it takes to get a financial settlement usually depends on how complex your financial situation is.

    Do you have overseas property, investments, inheritance, and so on? Or do you simply have joint savings to divide?

    If you can agree on the terms of your financial agreement before applying for the Final Order, it can ensure that your agreement becomes legally binding upon divorce.

    Now, you can get divorced without a financial settlement in place, but that does come with some potential repercussions down the line.

    What else can affect the timescale of a divorce?

    The timescale for divorce will depend on many factors – some within your control and some outside of your control.

    There are common things that delay divorce proceedings, so it’s always advisable to try and avoid those.

    Other factors will be based on whether you submit a joint application for divorce with your partner or file as a sole applicant.

    You would assume that filing together would be the quickest, but it can work the other way and actually cause more delays; if either party drags their heels or is inefficient at returning documents to the court.

    It’s also quicker to apply for a divorce online over using the postal method or hiring solicitors.

    How Divorce-Online can help you

    The decision to get divorced is never easy, however, dealing with the legal process should be.

    This, unfortunately, isn’t the case in most instances when you decide to handle your own divorce. Legal paperwork, court numbers, various applications, etc.

    Why not take the stress out of your divorce proceedings and allow us to handle the entire process for you from start to finish for £249?

    Get An Online Divorce Today For Under £250

    This service is ideal for couples that want to obtain a divorce without any hassle and spending thousands of pounds on lawyers’ fees. Our service is the simplest solution to getting divorced.

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