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How Long Does A Divorce Take? 22 February 2021

When a marriage breaks down and divorce is the result, it's an emotional time and the thought of lengthy, stressful court proceedings is daunting - although the good news is most divorces don't end up in court and the average straightforward divorce takes approximately 6-9 months to complete.

How long a divorce takes to complete depends on your personal situation as well as any delays in court administration.

Divorce Length

There are many factors that influence the length of the divorce process, including:

  • If either party defends the divorce
  • If there are children and how easily arrangements can be made
  • The division of assets

Divorce Process If Undefended

As a guide, a divorce that is straightforward - where neither spouse challenges the divorce - involves the following steps:

  • File for Application For Divorce
  • Respondent has 14 days to reply
  • There is a court fee to pay, currently £550
  • A Decree Nisi is issued, usually 3-4 months after the Application is made
  • Once issued, after a minimum of 6 weeks and 1 day, a Decree Absolute is announced

Divorce Process If Defended

If one party decides to challenge the application for divorce this slows down the whole process.

As a guide, a divorce when one spouse defends the application, involves the following stages:

  • Application For Divorce is filed
  • The respondent has 8 days to provide an initial reply
  • The respondent has a further 21 days to give their reasons for challenging the divorce
  • Both parties attend a court hearing, often months later
  • A judge hears evidence from both sides and decides whether to grant a divorce or not
  • The decision can be appealed by taking it to a higher court or a new Application For Divorce can be filed
  • Sometimes, the parties need to wait until they've been separated for 5 years before applying without their former spouse's consent
  • If the judge grants a divorce and this isn't further defended, a Decree Nisi is issued

Mediation Method

Mediation is a good way of speeding up the negotiations between both parties to reach an agreement on the details of separation with the help and guidance of a professional mediator.

While mediation won't change the divorce process or the timings, it can enhance the ability of the spouses to reach an agreement. There is no need to wait for a hearing date as the mediation session can be scheduled directly with the spouses and mediator.

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

There are changes to the law taking place in the next 12 months under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 that will enable no-fault divorce, dissolution of civil partnerships and judicial separations, in England and Wales.

The main change will be the replacement of the current requirement to allocate blame with the option of one spouse or the couple jointly making a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.

This is a positive change and will simplify the divorce process, enabling individuals to concentrate on the financial consequences of the marriage or civil partnership breakdown together with the arrangements for any children involved.

Helping You With Your Divorce

Our family law solicitors provide a sensitive yet practical approach to helping clients through the divorce process to make the experience as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

If you are filing for divorce or want to challenge a divorce application that's been filed, our specialist solicitors will advise and guide you at every step of the process, ensuring you get the support you need - and an outcome that protects you and your loved ones.

To speak to one of our divorce lawyers, please contact us at our Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005 or email or our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or email