How much time does it take to get a divorce in the UK?

By Woolley and Co. , at 1:12 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Even if you and your ex-partner are on good terms, going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience. You're likely to want the process to be over and done with as soon as possible, allowing everyone involved to move on.

New divorce legislation was introduced on April 6, 2022, to provide divorcing parties with a less complicated divorce process. Although the new no-fault divorce law is intended to reduce conflict, it may cause divorce proceedings to take slightly longer in some cases.

Divorce will take approximately 7 months under the new rules. This is due to the fact that there is now a minimum 20-week wait to apply for a Conditional Order, which is an important part of the divorce process.

Divorce used to take about 4-6 months, so some couples may have to wait a little longer for their divorce. However, this is offset by the process's simplification and the elimination of the need to assign blame for the marriage's failure. The option of contesting a divorce has also been eliminated, removing one of the most significant potential sources of divorce delay.

Divorce legislation has undergone significant changes.

Divorce legislation in the United Kingdom has undergone several significant changes. While the grounds for divorce remain the same - irretrievable breakdown of marriage - there is no longer any need to provide explanations.

Previously, the applicant was required to provide a reason for the marriage's dissolution. Potential reasons included desertion, adultery, or unreasonable behavior, which meant that one party was essentially held responsible for the other. It was frequently necessary for the couple to negotiate what should be included in the divorce application, which added a potential source of delay before the formal divorce process began.

Neither party is required to provide a reason for the divorce when filing for no-fault divorce. If both individuals wish, they may submit a joint application, and there is no longer any requirement to assign blame.

Other significant changes brought about by no-fault divorce legislation include:

  • If one spouse wishes to divorce, the other spouse has no right to contest the divorce (except in very limited circumstances).
  • Once the Conditional Order is granted, there is now a mandatory 20-week wait to apply for the Final Order (formerly the Decree Absolute), on top of the existing 6-week wait.
  • The applicant (formerly the 'petitioner') is the person who files for divorce.

Why has the divorce law in the United Kingdom changed?

Previously, one of the divorcing couple had to accept responsibility for the marriage's demise, or the couple had to live separately for at least two years before filing for divorce. This could exacerbate an already difficult situation or seriously stall proceedings.

If one of the couple's members contested the divorce, the applicant could have faced a 5-year wait before being granted a divorce. It is no longer possible to contest a divorce under the new rules, thereby avoiding this possibility.

How long does a divorce take in the United Kingdom?

If all divorce paperwork is completed on time, the legal process of ending a marriage can take at least 7 months. However, the division of finances and childcare arrangements may take longer. This will depend on how complicated the issues that need to be resolved are and whether the couple can reach an agreement quickly.

Every case is unique, and timeframes vary depending on the circumstances. To determine how long a divorce will take, you must first understand the complexity of the case and how long each stage will take. It is therefore strongly advised to seek specialist advice as soon as possible so that you have a clear picture of what to expect.

How long does it take to complete a divorce application?

The first step in filing for divorce is to fill out the online application form. The applicant must confirm that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and state whether they are a sole or joint applicant.

Applicants must include the names and contact information for both spouses, as well as their original marriage certificate or a certified copy. It is also necessary to state that the court has jurisdiction over the matter. In general, this entails proving that both members of the couple are ordinarily resident in England or Wales.

It is advisable to seek legal advice from a solicitor before filing for divorce.

Depending on your level of familiarity with online application forms and your ability to understand the legal questions being asked of you, the process of completing the online application could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

How long does it take to file for divorce?

When you file for divorce online, the relevant court will process it automatically. If you choose to file a paper application, you must do so at your local family court.

At this point, you should receive a notice confirming the application's issuance as well as a case number. You will also receive a copy of the application (complete with Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service stamp). If you are the sole applicant, the court will send a copy of the application form to your ex-partner as well.

The court can process an online application and formally 'issue' your divorce in as little as 10 days. If you send a paper application through the mail, it may take up to a month for your divorce to be granted.

How much time do you have to respond to a divorce petition?

Divorcing couples can now file for divorce jointly (a 'joint application') or separately (a'sole application').

In the case of a sole application, the court will send an 'Acknowledgement of Service' and a Notice of Proceedings to the spouse who did not file the application (referred to as the'respondent'). The respondent has 14 days after receiving these documents to complete and return the Acknowledgement of Service.

In a joint application, both parties must complete their details and agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken down, with one party initiating the process (typically online) and the other being prompted to confirm all details after creating their own online account.

How much time does it take to obtain a Conditional Order?

After the court has granted your divorce, you must wait at least 20 weeks before applying for the Conditional Order. This 20-week period is intended to allow both parties to reflect on their current situation and determine whether or not they want to proceed with the divorce. It is also a time when the couple can make formal plans for their children's care and the division of family finances.

Once issued, the Conditional Order confirms that the court sees no reason why the parties should not divorce. To complete your divorce, you must apply for a Final Order.

How much time does it take to receive a Final Order?

After the Conditional Order is issued, the divorcing parties must wait another 6 weeks before applying for the Final Order.

The divorce is legally binding and final once the Final Order is received. The Final Order was known as the Decree Absolute under old divorce law.

How long does it take to reach a financial settlement in a divorce?

Couples going through a divorce must reach a financial agreement. This should include separating property, investments, stocks, pensions, and personal belongings, as well as making child custody arrangements.

The theoretical starting point for dividing assets in a divorce is a 50/50 split. However, it is uncommon for finances to be divided exactly equally.

To divide finances in a divorce, Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is used as a guideline. The Act focuses on dividing assets fairly by assessing both individuals' income and earning capacity, as well as their future financial responsibilities and contribution to the marriage.

Given the amount of information to consider and the fact that some couples may have complicated financial situations, reaching a financial settlement can take anywhere from 9 months to a year.

The length of time it takes to divorce is largely determined by the financial situation of the divorcing couple. If you can agree on a financial settlement voluntarily in the form of a Consent Order, it will usually be much faster than if you have to apply to a court for a court-imposed Financial Order.

Find out more about how we can assist with divorce settlements.

How long does it take to arrange childcare during a divorce?

Child arrangements must usually be made quickly in order to provide certainty for your children. These should ideally be resolved through private negotiation or mediation and can often be resolved between the couple without the need for outside assistance.

If a divorcing couple cannot agree on child custody arrangements, they must petition the court for a Child Arrangements Order. The procedure for obtaining a Child Arrangements Order varies slightly depending on the circumstances. Typically, the first stage entails filing an application with the court. The court will notify the other parent of the application.

CAFCASS may conduct a background check on both social service and police partners. The parents will then be summoned to a preliminary court hearing. Further hearings may be required depending on the circumstances to finalize the details and make the Child Arrangements Order legally binding.

Obtaining a Child Arrangements Order can take anywhere from 6 months to a year in total.

Although not every case is suitable for family mediation, reaching an agreement on child custody through mediation is usually preferable and faster than going to court.

Learn more about how we can assist you with children's law.

How long does it take to do family meditation?

Family mediation is a divorce process in which a professional mediator assists families in arranging their finances and childcare arrangements. If families can resolve these issues through mediation, they may be able to avoid going to court.

Before divorcing couples can access family meditation, they must first attend a 45-minute Meditation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The session's goal is to determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation.

The length of divorce mediation depends on the individual circumstances and the ease with which the couple can agree and negotiate. Some couples may be able to reach an agreement on their childcare and financial arrangements in one or two mediation sessions. Others may go through a longer family mediation process that lasts between 3 and 6 weeks.

Learn more about how divorce mediation works.

What is the average duration of a divorce?

Currently, the average time to obtain a divorce is 6-8 months; however, depending on the circumstances, the process may take longer.

A divorce solicitor can give you an accurate estimate of how long your divorce will take. A trained divorce lawyer will be able to take the specifics of the case into account and provide you with a more accurate estimate of what to expect.

How soon can I get divorced?

The new no-fault divorce law allows you to divorce in as little as 7 months. This takes into account the application process, including the mandatory 20-week and 6-week waiting periods, as well as the time required for application, issuance, and response from the other party. It should be noted that this timeframe does not include a potentially lengthy financial arrangements process, nor does it account for any delays that courts may encounter at any given time.

How can I hasten the divorce process?

If you want a quick divorce, there are a few simple things you can do to expedite the process. To begin, working with a divorce lawyer is the best option. They can assist you from beginning to end of your divorce, ensuring that you do not encounter any legal snags that slow down your application.

Divorce lawyers can provide assistance in a variety of ways, including assistance with:

  • Filling out your divorce application
  • Ensure that you apply for the Conditional Order and Final Order as soon as possible.
  • Family mediation services provide guidance.
  • Legal assistance with financial and childcare matters
  • If necessary, representation at court hearings

If you do not wish to work with a divorce lawyer, it is critical that you conduct research on the divorce proceedings to ensure that you are aware of the deadlines and your legal obligations. Misunderstanding your legal rights and responsibilities may significantly slow the process.

Discuss your divorce with Woolley & Co Solicitors.

Our expert divorce lawyers at Woolley & Co Solicitors can provide specialist legal advice to guide you through a quick and stress-free divorce process.

Call 0800 321 3832 or fill out our quick online form to schedule your free 30-minute consultation with an expert local family law solicitor.

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