Timescale For Divorce: How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In The UK?
If you are considering ending your marriage, you are likely to be wondering, how long does it take to get a divorce in the UK? We take a look at the process involved and the likely timescale.
When starting a divorce, you are strongly advised to speak to an expert family law solicitor. Because there are other issues that must be taken into account before a divorce, such as a financial agreement and arrangements for children, if you have any, you are usually recommended to deal with these points before the divorce itself is finalised.
We can connect you to an expert divorce lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options and the next steps to be taken in securing a divorce. Our solicitors are selected for their high level of family law expertise as well as for the exceptional service they provide.
We are able to recommend the right lawyer for your needs, whether this is a fairly straightforward divorce or a complex or high value case.
Steps To Get A Divorce
Since the divorce law changed in April 2022, either party can apply for a divorce if they consider that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. It was previously the case that supporting facts would need to be shown such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or separation. However, this is no longer the case.
The law now simply allows you to ask for a divorce if your marriage has irretrievably broken down. It is also possible for both you and your spouse to apply for a divorce together. This change in the law is aimed at avoiding the need for either party to blame the other, which could cause a relationship to worsen.
It is no longer possible to contest a divorce.
Sending The Divorce Application
The first step in the process is to send an application for a divorce to the court. Your solicitor will be able to complete this on your behalf if you wish. You will also need to make a statement saying that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
Response To The Divorce Application
If you make a sole application, then your spouse will be advised of this by the court. They then need to reply to the court within 14 days by filling in an acknowledgment of service form.
Applying For A Conditional Order
There is then a ‘cooling off’ period of twenty weeks, intended to allow both parties the time to consider the situation.
Once the twenty-week period has expired, an application can be made to the court for a conditional order. A conditional order is effectively the court stating that it does not see any reason why a divorce should not be granted.
If you both made the initial application together, then you can both apply for the conditional order. Where only one of you is applying for a conditional order but you both made the initial application, a copy of the application for the conditional order must be sent to the other party.
Applying For A Final Order Of Divorce
After the conditional order has been issued, you will need to wait six weeks. You can then apply to the court for a final order. If it is not a joint application, you need to give your spouse 14 days’ notice that you will be making the application.
The court will then make a final order of divorce and the marriage is legally ended.
Total Time Taken For A Divorce
The above process takes a minimum of 26 weeks, or six months, taking into account the cooling off period of twenty weeks plus the six-week wait before a final order can be requested.
However, it is often advisable to deal with other issues before a divorce is finalised. This includes making arrangements for any children of the relationship and securing a financial order.
What Needs To Be Done Before You Get A Divorce?
It is very important to make financial arrangements at the time you divorce. This is because divorce alone does not end the financial obligations of marriage. Without a financial order, either party could make a claim against the other in the future. There is no deadline for this, meaning a claim could be made in many years’ time when either party’s wealth has changed substantially.
You are strongly advised to speak to a solicitor about securing a financial order. They will be able to ensure that your rights and interests are protected and that you have the financial security you need for the future. This includes working out how assets such as your home, savings and pensions will be dealt with.
Both of you will need to make full financial disclosure to the other and your solicitor will then be able to try and negotiate an agreed settlement on your behalf. If you are able to agree on how your finances and property will be dealt with, the court can be asked to seal this agreement in a legally binding consent order.
If an agreement cannot be reached, your solicitor will be able to refer you to mediation. A mediator will work with you to try and help you find an acceptable solution.
If you cannot agree on how your finances will be dealt with, then an application can be made to the court for a financial order. This can be a lengthy process and where the family court has backlogs, it could take a year or more to reach the final hearing stage.
Arrangements For Children
The courts prefer that arrangements for children are made between the parties wherever possible. Your solicitor will be able to negotiate on your behalf and help suggest options if you are finding it hard to agree.
If you cannot find an acceptable solution, it is usually the case that you will have to at least consider mediation before applying to the court. Your solicitor will be able to discuss this with you and refer you to a mediator.
Where you are able to agree on arrangements, these can be put before the court for approval. Where you cannot agree and mediation has not been successful, you can ask the court to make arrangements. Again, this can take a substantial period of time.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce?
The divorce process alone can be completed in six months from the date of the initial application. Dealing with other issues will usually take longer however, so you are advised to start considering them as soon as you are certain you want to go ahead.
You will be able to start putting together the large amount of financial information that will be needed for disclosure and work with your solicitor to start the process as soon as possible.
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