How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

A divorce lawyer in Fitzrovia makes notes

For most people, getting a divorce is a stressful and difficult time, making the prospect of a quick resolution very appealing.

Divorce proceedings themselves — initiated by way of a divorce Petition — have largely become an administrative process. In most cases, the parties involved won’t even have to attend court, except for in relatively narrow circumstances where the other party may decide to defend and/or refuse to agree to a divorce Petition. The more disagreements and obstacles during the divorce process, the longer it will take for a couple to get divorced. In this blog post, we look at how you can speed up the process.

In simple terms, obtaining a divorce effectively gives both parties the right to remarry. However, the final part of the process — which is achieved by the Court granting a “decree Absolute” — is usually delayed until all financial matters have been resolved. The process of sorting out the finances is separate from the divorce, and this is where delays will most often occur.

The Importance of a Legally Binding Financial Agreement

Because the decree Absolute will affect certain rights to inheritance and pensions, it is rarely advisable to complete a divorce until a legally binding financial agreement is also reached between the parties. The divorce proceedings will usually be paused at the “decree Nisi” stage (which is granted provided the other party does not defend the divorce and states that the court has no objection to granting the divorce) while the parties negotiate and agree on the division and settlement of finances. If you are a high-net-worth individual, it’s even more crucial that you have a formal agreement on how your assets will be split.

The petitioner could push the divorce through fairly quickly by obtaining the decree Absolute if, for example, they were planning to re-marry. However, this can be prevented by the respondent — they may stand to be at a financial disadvantage or have other valid reasons for arguing that they should remain married until a binding financial settlement is reached.

It’s important to note that regardless of the presence of a financial agreement, the petitioner must wait 41 days (six weeks and one day) after the decree Nisi has been granted before they can apply for a decree Absolute (the formal end of the marriage).

Exactly How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced?

Ultimately, a petitioner is subject to the court’s administration speed. Tabloid newspapers are quick to report on so-called quickie divorces — in as little as 14 seconds — but not even pop royalty can fast-track the administrative process, and these newsworthy headlines, in reality, refer to the time it takes for the initial decree to be heard. In a best-case scenario, a divorce could potentially be achieved within two to three months, but in most cases, a divorce will take between four and six months.

The best ways to reduce the delay of divorce are for the parties to agree with the form and content of a Petition before it is issued at Court and to reach an early agreement on their shared finances. This usually requires an amicable relationship between the parties and robust advice from specialist matrimonial solicitors, who can provide clear and constructive guidance from the outset.

Opting to get divorced this way will not only reduce the considerable emotional fall-out from a divorce, but it will also keep legal costs down. The priority at KMJ is always to provide cost-effective advice and support tailored to your particular circumstances and the level of complexities in your case.

It is highly recommended that you obtain specialist matrimonial advice before starting or proceeding with your divorce. This will ensure you understand all of the potential consequences and benefits for you and the other party.

Speak to the best divorce lawyers in London about your case today. We are dedicated to helping you get a divorce as quickly as possible while ensuring you get the best possible outcome.

After four years working at a top-tier, award-winning family law firm in Hertfordshire, Che joined KMJ in January 2018. Prior to this, Che trained and qualified at a high-profile commercial and media firm based in London’s West-End.