Answering the Question: How Long Does Divorce Take?

As experienced family lawyers, we’re used to clients asking us how long does divorce take, and the simple answer to that question is – it depends. We’re experts in family law, in fields such as children disputes, financial settlement and prenuptial and cohabitation agreements. Any or all of these might have some bearing when the time comes for a relationship to end, and the issue of how long does divorce take is one which depends greatly on the personal circumstances of the parties involved.

We understand that any divorce is a highly emotional matter and that letting these emotions dictate the choices made is often a guarantee of delays and more expense. We always work with our clients to ensure that things run as smoothly they can and that, if possible, there is no need to involve the courts. The question of how long does divorce take is fairly easy to answer if both parties agree to the divorce, if the financial issues which have to be settled are fairly simple and if there are no children involved in the relationship. It is, of course, possible that even with the involvement of children and complex financial issues, the couple in question could come to the relevant agreements before the divorce process actually begins and that the process itself will follow the standard course. If everything runs smoothly, the divorce process should pan out as follows:

One party will lodge a divorce petition with the court, and the court will send a copy of this to the other party, now known as the Respondent, along with a document known as the Acknowledgement of Service. This allows the Respondent to say that they have received the petition and whether they intend to contest the divorce.

If the Respondent isn’t going to contest the divorce, then the next stage is to apply to the court for a ‘decree nisi’. This involves filling in a form and making a supporting statement. All of this is intended to give you the chance to demonstrate to the court that you satisfy the requirements for a divorce to be granted. If everything goes to plan the court will set a date for the declaration of the decree nisi, although neither party has to attend.

The decree nisi is a form of ‘provisional’ divorce, and applicants must then wait for six weeks, at least, before applying to the court for the decree to be made final or ‘absolute’. This will usually be dealt with very quickly, and both parties will receive a copy of the decree absolute. This marks the point at which the marriage is officially over.

In the best case scenarios, this process should take four to six months, but there are factors which can lead to significant delays. The main factor which causes delays is if one of the parties opts to contest the divorce. They may feel that the marriage can still be saved or, and this is sadly sometimes the case, they may wish to delay things to make life as difficult as possible for their former partner. Contesting the divorce may mean disputing the grounds for divorce, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour, and sometimes one partner may simply opt to behave in a generally uncooperative manner.

The other major cause for delay tends to be any dispute over financial arrangements or the care of children. The ideal scenario is for these issues to be settled before the process begins, but if this proves impossible the parties involved might opt to go through mediation or, in the most extreme cases, call upon the court to decide on the fairest outcome. Both of these options can greatly prolong the process and increase the amount of money which has to be spent on legal representation.

If you’re considering a divorce or would simply like some general advice on the topic, please get in touch with Higgins Miller. Our expert team will make sure you know exactly what the process entails, and will ensure that all of the relevant paperwork is completed correctly and filed in the proper manner. If there are issues of a financial or childcare nature to be settled, we will attempt to help you settle them before proceedings begin, and will explain exactly what impact failing to do so could have.

We offer a free 20-minute consultation to find out how long does divorce take which you can access by simply calling us on 0161 4297251 or emailing [email protected]. If you need more help moving forward, then we do have various funding options on offer, and the details are available here.  

How Long Does Divorce Take
Higgins Miller Stockport Solicitors


September 25, 2017

Divorce & Civil Partnership

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