How long will a Divorce take?

15 Oct 2018


In England and Wales there is no such thing as a “quick divorce”. The answer is – it depends.

Firstly, it is important to highlight that the Divorce procedure is separate to the financial aspects of divorce. A divorce is the legal dissolution of a Marriage and the financial aspect is often known as Financial Remedy.

Obtaining a divorce in the UK can take as little as 6 months if the divorce is uncontested, you have finalised as much as you can beforehand with your spouse and there are no problems with sending documents to each other. Then it is a case of filling out paperwork.

However, it is important to note that whilst bringing the marriage to an end is relatively quick, the process often takes longer, particularly if agreement can’t be reached on financial matters and/or children arrangements. On average ending a marriage and agreeing a financial settlement takes around 12 months.

There are regrettably some instances where the Divorce is contested, and we have the expertise to advise you on these rare occasions.


The person applying for the Divorce is called a Petitioner, the other spouse is called a Respondent.

1. ISSUE THE PETITION – the Petition will be prepared by us on your instruction. It will then be sent to the Court.
3. THE RESPONDENT FILES AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE (If they do not then the Petition will need to be personally served on the respondent) and this is sent to the Petitioner
4. THE PETITIONER FILES A STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE DIVORCE AND APPLICATION FOR DECREE NISI We will prepare this documentation for you, you will check and sign the documentation before it is sent to the court
5. A DISTRICT JUDGE WILL CONSIDER THE PETITION If the grounds are accepted, then the petition will be listed for the pronouncement of a Decree Nisi
6. THE DECREE NISI IS PRONOUNCED BY THE COURT; you will not need to attend court for this
7. AFTER SIX WEEKS AND ONE DAY THE PETITIONER CAN APPLY FOR A DECREE ABSOLUTE (If they do not do so within four and a half months then the Respondent can apply)
8. THE DECREE ABSOLUTE IS THEN ISSUED, at this point the marriage is legally dissolved. You are now free to remarry. However, it is important to know that if you are the Respondent and you remarry it may impact any financial claim against your former spouse and you should seek legal advice.

Hepburn Delaney Solicitors also recommend that you update your Will following divorce, as parts of your existing Will may no longer be valid.

Speeding up the process

There are ways to speed up the process:

Agree the reason for your divorce either directly with your spouse or via their Solicitor – if you don’t agree and your spouse decides to contest the grounds for separation then it takes much longer and may end up in Court

Be prompt with your paperwork – often Divorces are held up with delays in paperwork. Both the petitioner and respondent should make sure paperwork is completed quickly so the process can advance

Avoid mistakes in the divorce papers – One of the reasons we advise seeking legal advice with the divorce process rather than going it alone is that even one mistake with your paperwork can add a delay of four to eight weeks.

Consider a pre-nuptial or a post-nuptial agreement – these are contracts which organise how property and money is to be divided if the marriage comes to an end. They are very useful in helping possible future divorce or separation becoming too complicated and drawn out. Our previous blogs on pre and post nuptial agreements explain more

Blog: What are Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements?

Blog: Pre-nuptial Agreements Gaining Popularity

Blog: What is a Post-nuptial Agreement?

At Hepburn Delaney our specialist family solicitors will support you with your Divorce, Children arrangements and any financial remedy. We are here to help you. Please contact us today on 01442 219080 to discuss your requirements.