How Long Does a Divorce Take?
In reality, the time it takes to go from filing a divorce petition to receiving a decree absolute in England and Wales is roughly 6 months.
For most of us, the divorce process is actually quite slow and boring, and depending on where you live it can take up to 3 months to get a decree nisi and 10 months for the decree absolute.
This article will give you some practical tips to ensure you avoid making the most common mistakes that tend to prolong divorce cases.
As well as things to avoid, you’ll find three practical tips for speeding up your divorce in 2021 during the pandemic.
Things to know about divorce before getting started
If you’re more interested in one specific part of our article, feel free to jump right to it by using the links below:
- How to achieve a quick divorce in 2021
- The implications of COVID-19 on the court system
- How to speed up your case by filing for divorce online
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 quicker than when one-party drag 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
What does the actual divorce process look like?
Divorce proceedings are largely an administrative exercise with four 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.
Step 1) File a D8 Divorce Petition Form – Approx. 6-10 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.
Step 2) Acknowledgement of Service – Approx. 2-4 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.
Step 3) Application for Decree Nisi – Approx. 6-8 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.
Step 4) Decree Nisi Pronouncement – 6 Weeks and 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 6 weeks and 1 day has passed.
This period is known as the ‘cooling-off period’. Essentially, it is a chance to discuss financial matters.
Step 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 approx 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.
Questions About Getting a Divorce?
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How to achieve a quick divorce in 2021?
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 do all three of these then you’re likely to obtain a divorce in as much as 12 weeks fewer because there will be no delays to your case at the court.
The implications of COVID-19 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 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’, which over the course of proceedings can save you weeks of time alone.
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