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How Long Does a Divorce Take If Both Parties Agree?

Divorce is often confusing and long-winded for many people, especially those that do it themselves without legal help.

The divorce process is largely a paperwork exercise and can be finalised within 4 – 6 months if there is an agreement from both parties.

We’ll explore how you can speed up your divorce process and what to avoid to ensure your proceedings aren’t prolonged.

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The divorce process in England and Wales legally ends your marriage. To start divorce proceedings, you must have been married for at least one year.

You can get a divorce without needing a solicitor or going to court if both parties can agree to the divorce and the reasons why.

If you can’t agree to a getting a divorce it will take you longer and cost you more than if you both agree.

An uncontested divorce in England and Wales will usually take fix to six months. This is only possible if you are in agreement to divorce and the reasons why.

It can take longer if you need to sort out money or assets, which is done separately to the divorce procedure.

Factors that will enable you to achieve a quick and easy divorce, include:

  • Whether both parties are in agreement to the divorce.
  • If you have an address for your ex-partner.
  • If you can agree on the reasons for your divorce.
  • How quickly you are able to reach a financial settlement.

In this article, we will show you how you can get a quick divorce without spending a fortune on solicitors fees.

What Are The Actual Stages Of The Divorce Process?

To get an understanding of how long your divorce may take, you need to first understand the process.

This short introduction to the divorce process will help give you an idea of the lengths at each stage.

Step 1 – D8 Divorce Petition

To start a divorce, you must complete a divorce petition form, known as ‘D8 divorce petition’.

If you are doing your own divorce you must ensure that you complete the form correctly with no mistakes.

If you make a mistake on the divorce petition, your case will only be looked at again once they return to it. This can be weeks.

So, if you’re looking for a quick divorce, double-check your divorce petition is correct.

Step 2 – Acknowledgement of Service

After a period of 6-8 weeks, the court will send the Respondent a form known as ‘Acknowledgement of Service.

Alongside this form will be a copy of the divorce petition.

This form is sometimes referred to as ‘the notice of proceedings.

Respondents have 8 days to complete this form and return it to the court.

The form is very basic and asks the Respondent if they agree to the divorce or wish to defend it.

If your spouse doesn’t respond in time you might need the court to deliver the papers personally.

Step 3 – Decree Nisi

After a period of approx 4 weeks, you can apply to the court for a ‘decree nisi’.

This is on the basis that the Respondent has returned the Acknowledgement of Service.

The judge will review your case and if approved, he/she will set a ‘pronouncement date’.

Only after a period of 6 weeks and 1 day of this date may you move on to the next stage of the divorce proceedings.

Step 4 – Financial proceedings

Now that your decree nisi is ‘pronounced’, you can apply for a financial order.

A financial order, commonly known as a consent order will separate your money and assets.

Divorce alone does not end your financial relationship.

A consent order is the only way to legally split any property, money or pensions within the marriage.

Dealing with your finances as part of a divorce can be confusing and stressful, but don’t overlook its importance.

If you’re unsure about your finances then speak to our friendly advisors on 01793 384 029. You can also use Live Chat or WhatsApp.

Step 5 – Decree Absolute

Once 6 weeks and 1 day have passed, you can submit the final application. The final step is filing an application for decree absolute.

This document will legally end your marriage. You should expect a waiting period of between 6-8 weeks before receiving confirmation.

Both parties will receive a decree absolute. Keep the document safe as you will need it to remarry or to change your name.

Would You Prefer To Divorce in 5-months Instead of 8-months?

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How to choose the right grounds for a quick divorce?

One of the key things to achieving a quick and easy divorce is filing for divorce on the right grounds for divorce.

The grounds for divorce are a set of reasons that you can give to the Court to establish the breakdown of your marriage.

The grounds you state in your divorce petition can have a big effect on how long your divorce can take, so let’s look at each option.

Adultery – Your husband or wife has had sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex.  There can be complications with this ground so it’s best to get advice first.

Unreasonable Behaviour – Your spouse has acted in an unreasonable way whereby you cannot be expected to stay married to your spouse.

You need to provide the Court with 4-5 examples of your spouse’s behaviour that has caused the breakdown of your marriage. This ground is often used when Adultery cannot be proven.

Desertion –  Your spouse has left you for a period of 2 years without good reason or agreement. This is rarely used as it can be more difficult to prove than other grounds.

Separation of 2 Years –  You and your spouse have lived separately for at least 2 years and both parties agree to end the marriage.

Living separately can mean sharing the same home, however, you must live separately, which means no sharing chores, meals, bedrooms etc.

Separation of 5 Years – You and your spouse have been separated for at least 5 years. You don’t need permission to divorce, however, the divorce papers must still be sent to your spouse.

If you don’t have an address or your ex-partner lives abroad please contact us as the process of getting a divorce is more long-winded.

Call us on 01793 384 029 for free advice and information on selecting the right grounds for divorce for your situation and circumstances. Choosing the right one is important to achieving a quick and easy divorce.

How long is it between the filing of a divorce petition and receiving the decree absolute?

The divorce process for most people is quite slow and boring.

Depending on where you live it can take up to 4 months to get a decree nisi and 12 months for the decree absolute.

In most areas of England and Wales, the divorce process from start to finish will take 4 to 6 months. There are others, such as London where cases are likely to take much longer.

It doesn’t matter if your divorce is simple and agreed, it must still go through the court’s system. When there are backlogs at Court centres, this can cause delays to the divorce process.

After the 6 weeks and 1-day cooling-off period which is mandatory in every divorce case, you should except for the court to take 8-10 weeks before being able to apply for the decree absolute.

The court will usually take 6-8 weeks to issue a divorce petition to the Petitioner and Respondent. It can then take 3-4 weeks for the court to issue a decree nisi pronouncement date.

This can be longer if the Respondent doesn’t acknowledge the court within the standard 7-day period.

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3 Things You Can Do To Speed Up Your Divorce Process

The length of your divorce process largely depends on the capacity of the court.

But there are many things you can do to ensure that your divorce doesn’t take years to sort out.

1. Agree the reasons for divorce with your partner

Try speaking to your spouse before submitting a divorce petition if possible.

If you give them the heads up then it will come as less of a shock when the divorce papers arrive from the courts.

It can also prepare them for the next steps, which can help move you onto the next stage of the divorce process.

If the Respondent can reply to the divorce petition on time, it’s the first step to swiftly getting a divorce.

2. Be prompt with your paperwork

There are many separate applications to make when going through a divorce.

Be sure to understand each application at the beginning of the process so that you are ready.

If you can submit the paperwork to the court on time it will help speed up your divorce.

3. Avoid making mistakes on paperwork

We’ve touched on this earlier on in the article, but it’s so important to take your time.

Divorce cases where there are mistakes on the paperwork will take 4-8 weeks longer at least.

This depends on how busy the court is and which paperwork the mistakes are on.

All divorce cases must go through the courts. There is no ‘quickie divorce’ that by-passes the divorce process.

It’s used to highlight uncontested celebrity divorce cases that aren’t drawn out in court.

There are searches on Google for ’12-week divorce’, which is near enough impossible.

We encourage everyone to do their own research before signing up for a ‘quickie divorce’ by;

  • Reviewing their qualifications or accreditations
  • Their trading standards profile
  • Their complaints procedure
  • Their reviews on popular third-party websites

Going through a divorce is hard enough. And we would hate for you to sign up to a service with such expectations only to receive something much worse.

My ex-husband or wife lives abroad and I don’t know their address…

You can still obtain a divorce in England and Wales if your husband or wife lives abroad, however, because of logistics you should expect it to take longer.

A divorce when your spouse lives in another country should take between six and eight months.

You must know their address for the divorce to be straightforward.

If you don’t know where your ex-partner lives then you must go through several procedural hoops in order to satisfy the court that you have tried to find them through various means.

These may include social media, employers, family or friends.

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of Divorce-Online and Managing Director of Online Legal Services Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.


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