I’m frequently asked the question, how long does it take to get divorced? 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. Some companies advertise fast-track services that promise a divorce in 12 weeks. The reality is the UK court system is far slower than that and so average processing times run between 20-22 weeks. In this blog, I set out the divorce process, the typical time it takes and some tips for speeding things up.
Firstly, the minimum length of time you must be married for before you can get divorced is one year. If you’ve been married for under a year, you can have your petition drafted and ready to send, but you cannot submit it until a year after your marriage date.
The most noteworthy point to start with is emotional preparation as this is the biggest predictor of how long it takes to get divorced. Prepared couples divorce more quickly and more amicably. If you are not starting the divorce, you’ll probably need time to adjust. Getting control of your emotions and adopting a business-like approach will help speed up negotiations. Rushing delays things, so why not watch our short video on emotional preparation here. If you’re kicking things off, then don’t rush your partner, instead, invest time in the emotional preparation stage and get coaching or support if needed. The below chart demonstrates the typical stages someone may go through during the divorce process.
This is usually the bit that takes most time. If you’ve already agreed things you can move on to getting your divorced processed through the court. If not, you’ll need to make a list of your finances and agree 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 processing before you’ve finalised your arraignments and so use the time it takes the court to process your divorce to negotiate a settlement.
First of all, you’ll need to fill in and file your petition with the court. The court will send it to your (ex)-partner. Your ex completes and returns the Acknowledgement of Service form and the court sends you a case number.
Tip 1. Encourage your partner to return the Acknowledgement of Service form rather than wait. If they don’t, the divorce will progress after 21 days so more slowly.
A judge will consider whether the marriage has broken down ‘irretrievably’. If a judge is satisfied that it has, your Decree Nisi will be pronounced a few weeks later and you’ll both receive a Decree Nisi certificate.
Tip 2. Apply immediately after the 21 days have passed if your ex has not returned the acknowledgement of service form.
In addition to the above, you can choose to file a consent order with your divorce paperwork. A Consent Order makes your agreements legally binding and it is therefore the only way of having a clean break between you and so stopping future claims.
Tip 3. Have a Consent Order as it provides peace of mind that you have finalised your arrangements. Avoid any nasty surprises in future.
Six weeks and one day after Nisi is pronounced you can apply for a Decree Absolute. This is the final piece of paper you need to be divorced.
Finally, you will receive the Decree Absolute certificate when you are legally divorced and the process is finalised. You’re now legally divorced and so free to re-marry if you wish.