In the United Kingdom, how long does it take to get a divorce?
There has been much discussion online and in the media about how long it takes to complete a divorce from beginning to end. This will, of course, be determined by the facts of each individual case. It will also depend on whether both parties agree on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether it is expedited, handled online or through lawyers, and the steps that are or can be taken for divorce in the UK.
It should be noted that the average divorce can take anywhere from nine months to a year, or less if both parties agree. There is a mandatory six-week and one-day period between the issuance of the Decree Nisi, or the first Decree in this country, and the issuance of the Decree Absolute. There may also be delays because prudent divorce attorneys will advise their clients not to apply for Decree Absolute until the financial aspects of the divorce have been fully resolved. This is because divorce can have an impact on wills, pensions, and insurance policies, and if Decree Absolute is granted and the party dies, the claims will be lost. To avoid this, no Decree Absolute should be granted until all finances have been properly worked out and can be implemented to avoid any difficulties.
To begin any divorce proceedings, you must first establish either on your own, based on your own information, or with the assistance of a lawyer. The grounds on which you intend to file a lawsuit Once you've determined the legal basis for your action, you may want to consider whether a draft of this Petition should be served on the opposing party first, as required by the Law Society Protocol. This is done to give the other party time to consider what you are going to say in order to avoid a contested divorce in the UK. This can apply whether the petition is for adultery, unreasonable behavior, or separation.
It is possible that your spouse will disagree with the nature of the allegation or the timing of it after receiving your draft particulars. For example, if you state that the adultery began on a specific date, they may claim that it began much later, or even deny that the adultery occurred at all. There may be some wrangling over the language. In the case of an unreasonable behavior petition, there would be allegations of behavior known as a Statement of Case.
This will include five, six, or more bullet points on which you wish to base your assessment of the other person's behavior. Again, if your spouse disagrees with what you have said, they can either propose amendments to your suggested draft or remove specific paragraphs entirely. or state that if you proceed to file such allegations, they will intend to defend each one of them,
They could also state that, while they disagree with the allegations, they will allow the matter to proceed undefended but reserve the right to defend those allegations if you seek to rely on them in any other proceedings. This can save money and avoid a contested divorce.
After the time you gave the other side to consider the draft has passed, you will be able to file your Petition in Court. Some people, when filing their own petitions online, may simply file their Petition without serving a draft because they do not understand the process. This can often result in a contested Petition if the opposing party files an Acknowledgement of Service stating that they wish to defend. If they respond within eight days, they have twenty-eight days from the date they received the Petition to file an Answer and/or Cross Petition to your allegations. The time constraints for this are extremely strict. If they do not respond in a timely manner, you may apply for your Decree Nisi. However, some parties will apply for an extension of time to set aside the Decree Nisi on the grounds that the time limits have not yet been met.
If an Answer is filed, an application for a Court hearing for directions must be made, during which a Judge will attempt to persuade the parties to allow matters to proceed undefended. If they are unable to do so, the case will be scheduled for a contested divorce hearing. Both parties must file statements, as well as any witnesses made known, and Witness Statements relating to the allegations. At a contested divorce hearing, the Judge must decide whether there are sufficient allegations proven to allow the case to proceed and award the divorce to one of the parties. Costs will also be an issue if there has been unnecessary defense of allegations, in which case that party may be forced to pay the costs of the contested divorce.
If a divorce is contested, it can be done so on the grounds that the allegations are false or that the marriage has not irretrievably broken down. Owens v. Owens was a well-known case that came before the Supreme Court two years ago after working its way through the Court's various divisions. in which the Court stated that they would not grant Mrs Owens a divorce because they did not believe she had sufficiently proven the allegations of unreasonable behavior. It was made clear that how those allegations are dealt with should be decided by Parliament, not the Court. For this reason, the then-Justice Secretary, David Gauke, proposed that fault-based divorce be abolished in the UK in order to make uncontested petitions the norm. This has not yet occurred, and as a result, parties are stuck in the current system, in which if one party decides to defend, it can significantly lengthen the divorce process and delay matters for the divorce itself for up to a year due to Court timetables.
If you want a 'quick' divorce in the UK, try to agree on as much as possible with your partner ahead of time to allow matters to proceed undefended, allowing costs to be minimized.
It is important not to confuse the fact that the Divorce Petition is separate from the finances, and the financial matters can also take up to a year if they are defended and go to Court. Finances in the United Kingdom can be handled in a variety of ways, including quick mediation or voluntary disclosure. e an exchange of financial information between solicitors during a negotiation, arbitration from which there is no appeal, or collaborative law, in which both parties sign a contract with their lawyers agreeing not to go to court. Alternatively, an application to Court Because of system delays, going through the Court process can take up to nine months to a year. Parties may choose to have what is known as a Private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, which allows them to instruct an independent Judge to deal with the matter and see if the Judge can assist the parties in reaching an agreement. Rather than waiting for a Court timetable to appoint a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, this can expedite the process.
Whatever path you take, keep in mind that there may be delays, unexpected adjournments, or illness that prevent a hearing. In these circumstances, do not put yourself in a position where a critical time limit must be met, which may fail due to circumstances.
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