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COVID-19 UPDATE: Goodwins is committed to delivering high-quality service while keeping our staff and clients safe. Currently, courts remain open and our team will continue to operate as normal, but all consultations and meetings will now be made via video call. Click here to view our full response to COVID-19.

FAQ: How long does the divorce process take in England? How quickly can we get divorced?

Firstly, you need to be aware that, in England and Wales, you cannot petition for divorce until you have been married for at least one year. Every divorce case is different, some will be more simple – and thus quicker – than others, but how fast you can finalise a divorce depends entirely on the circumstances surrounding it. Some key factors include:

  • Is the divorce being contested? If your partner contests the divorce, refuses to sign the papers or demonstrates hesitation, further steps will be needed before the divorce can proceed. This could be mediation, enlisting a third party to deliver papers to your partner, revising a petition, seeking further legal advice from a divorce solicitor and, eventually, presenting the case in court. If the divorce is uncontested, this speeds things up greatly, with no need to appear in court.
  • Are their any children to consider? If child maintenance or child custody needs to be discussed, this could delay the process. The wellbeing of your children is the most important consideration during any divorce, so these discussions must be handled carefully and in depth.
  • How many financial assets need to be divided? If there’s nothing or very little to split between the two parties, the divorce process will be simplified. However, if you have to divide large assets such as the house, a pension and other valuable belongings, then settling on the specifics of the division can take a long time, depending on how each party approaches this.

A Decree Nisi, which is a legal order stating the date that the marriage will end, can be obtained after an average period of four to five months, although it could be much shorter or longer. A Decree Absolute, which is a document declaring the end of the marriage, is received six weeks after the date of the Decree Nisi.

Even in complex divorce cases, you can make sure you’re not wasting any time during preparations by enlisting the advice of a reputable divorce solicitor, who will offer guidance and support throughout every stage of your case. A trained solicitor will be able to assess your situation and give you appropriate advice on what to expect, so it is important that you seek legal expertise before entering into divorce proceedings.

Needing advice about how to start divorce proceedings? You can get in touch with us today to book an initial fixed fee consultation for a confidential discussion and we’ll be happy to help. We are located in Harrow, London, with on site car parking and accessible from public transport links. Alternatively, if you are overseas we can arrange a Skype call with you if it is more convenient.


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