How long does it take to get a divorce in the UK?
Here we discuss the average time it takes people in the UK to get divorced, how quick the divorce process can be and tips to prevent a long drawn out court battle.
14 January 2021
How long does a divorce take?
It’s a common misconception that it can takes years to complete the divorce process. The truth is that getting a divorce in the UK can take as little as four to six months. Uncontested divorces are a relatively straightforward process however if couples struggle to resolve financial matters it can take a lot longer. On average, ending a marriage and coming to a financial settlement takes approximately a year.
What is a dedicated divorce centre?
In the past, divorce papers had to be filed at local county courts and be checked by district judges. To speed the process up and allocate legal resources more effectively, HM Courts and Tribunal Service has changed the way we process them and they are now done at a total of 11 dedicated regional divorce centres.
The aim of this is to speed up the first part of the divorce process. However, bear in mind that the statutory wait of six weeks and a day remains in place between the granting of a decree nisi (which is a document stating that the court sees no reason why you can’t be granted a divorce) and a decree absolute (which legally ends your marriage).
How can I get a quick divorce?
Often the biggest delay in divorces occurs at the very start of the process, before either party has even filled in a divorce petition. A lot of couples will try to resolve the problems in their relationship and the average person will work at their marriage for 18 months, really trying to find a way to stop it breaking down.
Whilst there isn’t necessarily a set way to get a quick divorce, there are definitely things you can do to speed the process up.
- Try to obtain agreement from your spouse on the reason for your divorce – it may go to court if your spouse decides to contest the grounds for separation.
- Be prompt with your paperwork – this will help to minimise any wasted time.
- Don’t make any mistakes in your divorce papers – it’s advisable to seek legal assistance when going through this process to avoid running the risk of making errors which could slow the process down.
Agreeing finances and arrangements for children
For many people, the divorce process itself is straightforward. What complicates matters is the disagreements that can occur on how finances should be settled and what arrangements should be put in place for children.
Deciding to go to court can result in divorces taking a long time and costing a lot of money so it’s a good idea to look for other ways to resolve these disagreements. For example, you can turn to collaborative law or mediation as a way of resolving financial or children issues. These approaches can help to prevent disputes from escalating and make it easier for separating couples to come to agreements that they’re both happy with and that are in the best interests of their wider families.
Consider a pre-nuptial (or a post-nuptial) agreement
When entering into a marriage, it’s important to consider whether it would be beneficial to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. These contracts set out how money should be organised during a marriage and how property and money is to be divided if the marriage comes to an end.
If you’re already married, it’s still possible to put an arrangement like this in place. These contracts are called post-nuptial agreements rather than pre-nuptial and allow you to plan financially should your marriage break down.
How Slater and Gordon can help you
If you want to get a divorce or have been petitioned for divorce, we are here to help. Our family law solicitors are highly trained and knowledgeable, and have vast experience in all kinds of divorce cases - from the simple to the complex.
We’ll help you to achieve the right outcome in your divorce and ensure the process runs as quickly, efficiently and smoothly as possible. When you speak to our experts and provide us with details of your situation, we’ll be able to give you advice on your next steps, and an indication of how long your divorce may take depending on your situation.
All information was correct at the time of publication.