How long does a divorce take?

If you are in an unhappy marriage or have started looking into separating you may be wondering exactly how long does a divorce take? This is not such a simple question to answer as every case is as individual as the relationship that the couple going through the divorce is unique.

Firstly, you can get a divorce if you have been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down. You must have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK, and have a permanent home in England or Wales.

There has been increasing media coverage of people who have chosen to conduct a DIY Divorce, i.e. a divorce that hasn’t involved solicitors. This is sometimes possible if you and your partner agree on all of the major issues that are usually resolved during a court hearing, mediation or collaborative law. However, it is always worth seeing a divorce lawyer to ensure that you have covered things that you may not have thought of, for example, who picks the kids up from school if they are sick and you are both at work? You may also require assistance with the paperwork to ensure it is filled in and filed correctly, as this is no easy task without a legal background.

The major issues being; the reasons for the divorce, how you will look after any children involved, and how you will split up any money, property and possessions. If all of this is amicably resolved the paperwork is then minimal and a court hearing would not be necessary.

This, sadly, for many couples is not possible, and the reason why solicitors specialising in family law should be entrusted with the job of guiding you through the divorce process as swiftly and with the least stress and drama possible.

To understand how long a divorce process will take, you should be aware of the three main steps involved:

  1. Filing a divorce petition where you apply to the court for permission to divorce your partner and explain why you want the marriage to end.
  2. Applying for a decree nisi occurs when your spouse agrees to your divorce petition. There is then a compulsory wait of six weeks before
  3. Applying for a decree absolute. This legally ends your marriage.

So, in theory the quickest even possible divorce would take at least four to five months because of the information that has to be passed between the two individuals and their respective solicitors.

At each stage there is a time allowance for an individual to reply, and of course there will often be a lot of discussion required to ensure that all the paperwork is in order before submitting. This process can take longer if one partner is overseas, and also if one party does not return information in a timely fashion, because it will have to be proved that that individual has actually received the divorce petition before matters can proceed.

Delays can also be incurred if one individual does not want to get divorced or disagrees with the reasons stipulated in the initial divorce petition. Making arrangements and coming to agreements about children and financial matters can sometimes take some time, with matters needing further clarification along the way, and of course until these are finalised, there may be a significant delay in the time it takes to obtain decree absolute.

So, despite you hearing of celebrities who are seemingly divorced within minutes of them separating, for the majority of people it can take many many months, depending on the nature of the divorce and all circumstances involved.

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