How long does it take to get a divorce? The simple answer is many months. I imagine if you’re the instigator of the divorce this isn’t what you want to hear.
If you’ve moved on or even booked the ‘next’ wedding as one of our customers last week had, then the court process is slow and frustrating.
In this blog, I set out the divorce process and the typical time it takes to divorce in the UK and some tips for speeding your divorce up.
It's important to remember that the court processing time can vary depending on it's daily capacity.
How long does a divorce take from start to finish?
On average, it takes six months for a divorce or dissolution to be finalised through the courts in England and Wales.
If you are getting a consent order (the document that formalises your financial settlement) at the same time as divorcing, the average time it takes to get a divorce and finalise your financial split extends to six to twelve months.
So, how long does it take to divorce? If you're lucky and everything goes smoothly around four months. This timeline will extend depending on the complexity of your divorce.
Answer three simple questions to receive a personalised divorce timeline.
What You Need To Know Before You Start The Divorce Process
You need to be married 12 months
The minimum length of time you must be married before you can get divorced is one year. If you’ve been married for under a year, you can have your divorce application drafted and ready to send, but you cannot submit it until a year after your marriage date.
The other option is to annul your marriage, however, this is hard to do. Find out more about how to annul your marriage via the government website here.
Decide on a parenting plan if you have children
We also provide co-parenting divorce-diagnostic that can help you decide on plans and decisions for your children. You might want to think about where your kids are going to live, plan and think about how they'll see you and your ex. Remember that children deal with separations differently from adults, and we take into account the age and stage of children.
Figure out your finances and assets
Deciding and sorting out finance and assets is a difficult process and we can help. You're going to need to think about how to divide your personal properties, divide assets, invest and save. Make a plan on how to pay divorce fees.
Read our blog on what is a consent order for more information on this part of the process.
Think about who you need to tell
You're going to have to organise who to tell you about your divorce or separation. These people may include your mortgage lender, banks or building societies, home insurers, dentist, GP surgery, and many more.
7 steps for a faster divorce:
Step one: Prepare emotionally
The most noteworthy point to start with is to take time to emotionally prepare as this is the biggest predictor of how long it takes to get divorced. Emotinally prepared couples divorce more quickly and more amicably.
Getting control of your emotions before starting divorce proceedings and adopting a business-like approach will help speed up negotiations. Rushing will make the divorce take longer, watch our short video on emotional preparation here.
If you want to submit the divorce application, don’t rush your partner, instead, take time to invest in the emotional preparation stage. Getting a divorce is a big life change, our advice is to allow them time to get used to the fact that the marriage is over and get advice and coaching if needed. The below chart demonstrates the typical stages someone may go through during the divorce process.
Step two: Agreeing your children and financial arrangements
This is usually the bit that takes the most time. If you’ve already agreed on things you can move on to getting your divorce processed through the court. If not, you’ll need to make a list of your finances and agree on what’s going to happen to your assets in the future.
You’ll also need to agree where the children will live and how you’ll take care of them. This can be tough and consequently many people seek help from our divorce coaches.
You can start the divorce process before you’ve finalised your arrangements and so use the time it takes the court to process your divorce to negotiate a settlement.
Step three: Submitting your divorce application (approx. two weeks)
- First of all, you’ll need to decide whether you will be submitting a joint or sole application for divorce.
- You will then need to complete and submit your divorce application.
- You will need a copy of your marriage certificate to start the application along with an address for your ex. For advice on starting the divorce process, click here.
- The court will send a copy of the divorce application to your (ex)-partner. Your ex then completes and returns the acknowledgement of service form and the court sends you a case number.
Tip 1. If you have made a sole application for divorce, encourage your ex to return the acknowledgement of service form rather than wait as this may cause significant delays.
Step four: Wait the reflection period and then apply for the Conditional Order (approx. 30 weeks)
You must wait the mandatory 20-week 'cooling-off' period before you can progress to the next stage and apply for your Conditional Order.
If you have made a sole application for divorce, you will also have to wait for your ex to respond to the divorce application. Once you submit your Conditional Order, a judge will consider whether the marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’ and if you can get a divorce or not. If a judge is satisfied that it has, your Conditional Order will be pronounced a few weeks later and you’ll both receive a Conditional Order certificate from the court.
You will then have to wait six weeks and one day after your Conditional Order pronouncement date in order to proceed with the next stage of the divorce.
Tip 2. Apply for the Conditional Order, as soon as you are able to do so.
Step five: Submitting a consent order (after you receive your Conditional Order certificate)
In addition to applying for your Conditional Order, you can choose to submit a consent order with your divorce paperwork.
A consent order makes your agreements legally binding and is the only way of having a clean break between you and so stopping future claims. (Did you know that you are still technically financially tied to each other even if your divorce is official until you have completed the consent order process through the court?).
Tip 3. Avoid any nasty surprises in future. Get a consent order as it provides peace of mind that you have finalised your arrangements.
Step six: Applying for your Final Order (six weeks and one day after your Conditional Order is received)
Six weeks and one day after your Conditional Order is pronounced you can apply for a Final Order. This is the final piece of paperwork in the divorce process. You may wish to wait for your consent order to be granted before applying for your final order.
Tip 4. It's often safer and 'tidier' to get your consent order sealed by the courts before submitting for your Final Order
Step seven: Your divorce is finalised (approx. two weeks)
Finally, you and your ex-partner will receive the Final Order certificate (usually takes two to three weeks to arrive if you apply by post or two to three days if you apply online). Your divorce is now official and the process is finalised.
For a more bespoke estimate of how long your divorce may take. You only need to answer a few simple questions and provide your email address so we can send you your divorce timeline straight into your inbox.
How to speed up your divorce
Getting a divorce takes time and the process of obtaining your Final Order (the certificate that makes your divorce legal) takes longer than people expect.
However, there are a few ways that you can do to make the divorce process run smoothly and quickly. Our quick divorce blog provides advice and information on common myths around speedy divorces along with advice and guidance on making the process faster.
Speak to a Divorce Coach
Book a free 15-minute call with an amicable expert. Understand the process, how long it may take, how much it can cost and what your options are.
You can join the call alone or together.