How Long Does a Divorce Take?
In reality, the average time it takes to go from filing a divorce petition to receiving a Decree Absolute in England and Wales is roughly 6 months.
For the most part the divorce process is actually quite slow. It can take up to 3 months to get a Decree Nisi and 10 months for the Decree Absolute.
Where you live and in which court your application is filed can cause delays as some courts have seen longer delays than others due to the impact of COVID.
In this article we will advise about things to avoid and provide some useful tips for speeding up your divorce application.
Things to know about divorce before getting started
To apply for a divorce, you must have been married for at least 12 months.
A divorce where both parties are in agreement to end their marriage is likely to be much quicker than one in which one party contests the divorce and drags their heels in.
The divorce process is exactly the same irrespective of the grounds for divorce you use and whether you hire a divorce lawyer or do it yourself online.
There are many things that can affect the length of a divorce, however, the most common reasons are delays at divorce centres (courts) and a lack of cooperation from one party.
If you are like most people seeking a divorce, you want it over and done with as quickly as possible; well, here are a few simple things you can do to avoid a prolonged divorce:
- Avoid making mistakes on the divorce petition (e.g. spellings, details, etc)
- Inform your ex-partner about your intentions to file for divorce (if possible)
- Respond efficiently to the court when requested or prompted
There are various other factors that can cause delays, some of which are considered in this blog: 5 Things That Cause Delays To a Divorce
The divorce process timeline
Divorce proceedings are largely an administrative exercise with five different stages, all of which require you to complete paperwork in order to get a divorce.
Let’s walk through the divorce process and see roughly how long each stage takes to complete.
1) File a D8 Divorce Petition Form – Approx. 6 to 10 Weeks
To start a divorce application, you need to complete a divorce petition form and submit it to the court. This can be done via post or online if you choose an online divorce.
The divorce petition is the main document in divorce proceedings and includes basic personal details, marriage details, and the reasons for wanting a 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.
2) Acknowledgement of Service – Approx. 2 to 4 Weeks
Once the court has confirmed the details of your petition are correct they will send your spouse a copy of the petition with an acknowledgment of service to complete.
If the Respondent returns the acknowledgment to the court at an appropriate time, the court will send you a copy of the acknowledgment of service.
After a period of 2-4 weeks, you will be able to move onto the next stage and apply for the decree nisi.
3) Application for Decree Nisi – Approx. 6 to 8 Weeks
When applying for the decree nisi, a district judge will consider your divorce petition.
If the grounds for divorce are accepted, your divorce petition will be listed in the judge’s list for pronouncement of decree nisi.
Once you are given a pronouncement date, it essentially means that the Judge cannot see a reason why they shouldn’t grant the divorce.
4) Decree Nisi Pronouncement – 6 Weeks + 1 Day
You will be given a decree nisi pronouncement date, which is important because you can’t move onto the next stage until a period of precisely 6 weeks and 1 day has passed.
This period is known as the ‘cooling-off period’.
5) Application for a Decree Absolute – Approx. 2 Days
The final thing you need to do in order to obtain a divorce is to apply for the decree absolute.
It is the legal document that legally ends your marriage and entitles you to remarry if you wish.
It takes approximately 2 days for the court to send you the document and concludes divorce proceedings.
Important: If you don’t reach a financial agreement and apply to the court to approve it, then you will still be legally tied in regards to your financial commitments.
This means potential claims against your money or claims against your pensions will be possible, even years after the divorce.
How to achieve a quick divorce
We’ve provided you with a handful of things to avoid doing to ensure you can obtain a quick divorce, but what can you do to speed it up further?
Whilst we all must follow the same divorce process in order to obtain a decree absolute, there are certain things you can do to speed it up, which include:
- Agreeing on the reasons for divorce with your spouse before petitioning.
- Have experts draft your divorce petition for you (to avoid any mistakes).
- File for divorce online instead of doing a paper application.
If you were to take these three actions you’re likely to obtain a divorce as much as 12 weeks quicker because there will be no delays to your case at the court.
The implications of COVID on divorce timescales
Divorce centres up and down England and Wales have been unable to avoid disruption to the court system.
With many court staff working from home, there has inevitably been some backlog build-up, which has affected the length of divorce cases for thousands of applicants.
This seems to be behind the divorce centres now (As of January 2021) and if you were to file for divorce now, you shouldn’t run into any backlogs or delays due to Coronavirus.
Will doing my divorce online speed up my divorce?
Yes undoubtedly, is the simple answer.
A traditional divorce where you file the paperwork yourself via post is likely to take longer compared to filing it online; for many reasons.
Firstly, there won’t be such prolonged delays between certain stages of the divorce process due to the information being available online for court staff to review.
Also, as there is no postage to deal with your case won’t be held up by postage delays. “Snail Mail” over the course of the divorce proceedings can take several weeks!
Together with how long a divorce is likely to take the cost of divorce is usually one of the other main factors for you to consider.
Are you ready to start your divorce application online? Find out How To Start Your Divorce Online Without Hiring Solicitors
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