How Long Does a Typical Divorce Take?
Table Of Contents
- The average timescale for a divorce in the UK to go from submitting a divorce application to receiving the final order is now roughly 8 months.
- 20-week reflection period – This mandatory period of reflection during divorce proceedings means that even the fastest of divorce cases will take 7 months.
- Why do delays happen? Most common delays happen when you don’t have an address for your spouse or you delay responding to the court at each stage.
- Can it be done quicker? – Having experts handle all aspects of your divorce is likely to be the quickest route to getting a divorce. View our service for £199.
How long does a divorce actually take in the UK? (Official Government Figures!)
According to official Government statistics, a typical divorce in the UK in 2023 takes between 10 and 13 months to complete, even if you both agree. Source here
Most people say ‘around 6 months’ but this is too simplistic and only looks at the number of weeks involved with each step of the divorce process.
It does not factor in court delays, errors in applications, delays from the respondent, and many other factors that cause delays in divorce cases.
Getting divorced in 6 months is no longer the norm and few couples will achieve this.
Here is a breakdown of the average divorce timescales since 2020 looking at both the Conditional Order (decree nisi) and Final Order (decree absolute).
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 for those applying for a divorce in 2023, you’re likely going to be waiting 60+ weeks to receive the Final Order, which is twice as long as most other articles claim.
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.
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.
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.
Key facts about divorce you should know
If you are like most people and seeking a quick divorce, here are a few simple things you need to know:
- The divorce law has changed (April 6, 2022), meaning you no longer need to apportion blame on your ex-partner.
- Your spouse cannot defend against the divorce, however, the process can become more complex if they do not respond to the court.
- You can now make a joint divorce application, whereas previously the law only accepted sole applications.
- Family law solicitors can provide legal advice on your options, which is recommended but is not a legal requirement to get divorced.
- A divorce is not complete without putting your financial settlement into what is known as a consent order. This legal document should be drafted by family law professionals.
- Previous backlogs at the divorce centres in England & Wales from Coronavirus are now largely cleared.
- If you have discussed the arrangements for your finances, it’s wise to consider obtaining a legally binding court order, such as a consent order, to prevent any future claims and ensure any agreement is carried out after the divorce.
Doing your own divorce can be confusing and often very time-consuming. Consider allowing our team of experts to handle it for you for a fraction of the cost of hiring a solicitor.
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 £199?