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How long does the Divorce process take?

divorce london

The Ministry of Justice quarterly report (July to September 2021) show the average time from petition (start of the divorce) to decree nisi (provisional decree) was 26 weeks, and decree absolute (marriage dissolved) was 55 weeks.

Realistically it can take around one year to obtain a divorce.  Where there are contested or complex financial issues it is not advisable to conclude divorce proceedings until these are negotiated and agreed.

To commence divorce proceedings, you must be married for at least one year. You will need to prove ‘irretrievable breakdown of your marriage’ citing one of the grounds for divorce.

How can I speed up the divorce process?

Uncontested divorce will always be smoother – If it is possible try to agree on the grounds for divorce with your partner.

Obtain a copy of your marriage certificate – Your solicitor can do this for you, but it will save time and costs if you have one already.

Any previous legal agreements should be shared with your solicitor at the beginning.

Don’t delay when asked for paperwork by your solicitor and check the accuracy – Inaccurate or poorly completed documents can be returned by the court sending any new submission to the back of the queue.

The courts online portal allows much speedier lodging of applications and response times.

Agree on financial and child arrangements – Often these conflicts can delay the process and elevate the costs and stress involved.

Common reasons for delays in the divorce process

  • Poor communication between parties and an inability to agree on the grounds for divorce.
  • Some people want their day in court regardless of cost and stress.
  • Inability to come to an agreement on finances or child arrangements.
  • One party might be unrepresented or deliberately delaying in reply or simply refusing to return the court papers.
  • The pressures on the court system itself and the continued backlog from COVID-19.

You should always take specialist family law advice before embarking on divorce to ensure that your financial interests and those of any children of the family are taken into consideration. Speak to Maguire today.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: james.maguire@family-law.co.uk or telephone:

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