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How long does it take to get a divorce?

How long does it take to get a divorceThis is a very reasonable question to ask and one which we will answer fully depending on your own particular circumstances. If life followed a, “one size fits all” pattern then we could give a more straightforward answer but as you know life isn’t like that.

Typically a divorce can take between 16 and 24 weeks (4 – 5 months) to conclude but much depends upon the reaction of your husband or wife.

For reasons which you may appreciate when three parties are involved, those being you, your husband or wife and the court, much depends upon how quickly and efficiently each party is in carrying out the immediate task which needs undertaking before the next step can take place.

In addition there may be some reasons why it is not appropriate to apply for a decree absolute as quickly as you can if there are financial reasons for it being prudent not to do so. Often spousal benefits in life policies and pensions are lost on divorce and so there may be good reasons to delay no matter how eager parties may be to conclude the process.

So what is the process by which you can get a divorce?

How do I get a divorce?

To start the process of divorce you need to state the basis for the divorce, in the divorce process this is called ‘a fact’ or ‘facts’ if there are several contributing factors.

We can help you decide which fact you may wish to rely upon in your divorce. The most amicable fact to rely upon may be relying on the fact of two years separation with your husband’s or wife’s consent.

This however may mean a delay of two years before you actually are divorced. You may prefer to rely upon the facts of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Relying upon these facts will allow you to petition the court now.

The first step in getting a divorce

The first step is to file the divorce petition itself. Having prepared the petition, with the help of your divorce solicitor, you will need to ensure that you have your marriage certificate. Your solicitor will help you get a copy if you have mislaid it or you cannot find your copy for any other reason.

The court will then arrange for it to be served. Delays can occur if your husband or wife can’t decide if they want to instruct a solicitor. If your husband or wife does not return the paperwork (the Acknowledgement of Service) to the court then you may have to have it served personally. This will probably cause delay. You may wish to discuss the divorce petition with your husband or wife.

If the Acknowledgement of Service is returned promptly then you will be notified by the court and you will be able to progress to the next stage provided your husband or wife has not intimated that they wish to defend the divorce. Whilst this is rare it is something that you may wish to consider.

Applying for decree nisi

Your divorce solicitor will prepare a Statement in Support of the petition and an application for decree nisi (conditional divorce). This is then signed by you and sent to the court. It is no longer necessary to file a sworn Affidavit.

All this paperwork is then considered by a judge who may be considering many such applications in one day. This is where the notion of the “quickie divorce” comes in. A quickie divorce as such does not exist. A judge looking at the paperwork filed may decide that everything is in order and this may take just a few minutes on the day but that does not mean you are divorced.

If the judge decides that you are entitled to a divorce a date will be fixed for the pronouncement of your decree nisi. You need not attend court on that date.

Applying for the decree absolute

After the decree nisi has been pronounced then you have to wait for six weeks and one day from the date of the decree nisi until you can apply for the decree absolute. Once this is applied for it is normally a matter of days before the divorce is finalised.

Taking time to agree your financial settlement

It is important to note that that does not mean the financial aspects of the divorce are completed. For the reasons stated above you may wish to delay the decree absolute until you have agreed the financial division of the assets and before you apply for the decree absolute. If you don’t apply then your husband or wife may apply three months after decree nisi.

If the financial aspects of your divorce are complex or contested then there can be delay. Avoiding court helps you to retain control.

Speeding up the time to divorce

The government is considering taking steps to speedup up the process but the courts are dealing with The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and some may consider it to be not as fast some would like. Until there is reform we have to use the process we have.

What to do next

If you need further advice please do not hesitate to contact us on 01664 498 999 or

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