How Long Does a Divorce Take?

If you’re getting divorced, one of the most common questions is ‘how long does a divorce take’? There are lots of factors that affect how long your divorce takes. Keep reading for a guide to the timescales involved in the divorce process.

How quickly paperwork is dealt with, and how busy the courts are will all have an impact on how quickly your divorce goes through.

What are the factors that affect how long a divorce takes?

Even in a no-fault divorce, your divorce is likely to take longer if the two of you don’t agree on:

  • The division of your financial assets
  • Contact arrangements for your children

The division of your financial assets

During the divorce process you will be asked to provide evidence to help with the division of financial assets.

If you and your spouse own assets, then you will have to decide how these are divided as part of the divorce process. Assets may include the family home, pensions, savings, and personal effects, and you may also have to establish a schedule of child maintenance payments.

Arriving at a financial settlement can delay your divorce, particularly if there are issues on which you disagree. Whether you reach an agreement through your solicitors, mediation, arbitration or through the courts, this process can take time.

If your financial agreement needs to be dealt with by the court, then this can add weeks or even months to the process.

As the financial elements of a divorce can be some of the most contentious, it pays to focus on these if you want the process to be concluded as quickly as possible.

If you don’t provide full disclosure of your income, savings, pensions or investments then this can lead to delay. Trying to ‘hide’ assets can also significantly delay the process, as a ‘Final Order’ will often be held back until all financial arrangements are agreed.

Contact arrangements for your children

If you have agreed childcare arrangements, then your divorce can proceed. If not, the process may be delayed as you establish a schedule of contact for your children.

You don’t have to go to court to seek agreement, and you can establish a framework for childcare through mediation or through your solicitor. However, if you do end up in court then this may delay the divorce process.

Going to court can mean your divorce takes a long time, and it may also cost you a lot of money. Coming to an agreement through collaborative law or mediation can help you to finalise your divorce more quickly.

Your divorce proceedings require both of you to move the case forward. This might be through returning documents promptly or chasing the progress of the paperwork.

If there are areas that need resolution, then the process will only move as quickly as the two of you can reach agreement on these matters. Disputes about finances or children can stall the process, and so any uncertainty about what to do next can cause delays.

Will handling everything myself speed the process up?

Stricter legal aid requirements have meant that more and more people are representing themselves in divorce proceedings.

Handling legal matters yourself may save you money in the short term, but as your knowledge of the process may not be up to scratch, it can significantly delay the end outcome. You may need more time to prepare and present your case, and if you’re not well-versed in court procedure you can easily miss a crucial part of the process.

A family solicitor knows the process inside out and can handle issues which might delay your divorce. They can advise you regarding the law, help you reach agreement on disputed matters and chase any outstanding paperwork.

How long between a ‘Conditional Order’ and a ‘Final Order’?

Once the 20-week period has elapsed, you can apply for the conditional order.

You can apply for your final order – the document that legally ends your marriage – six weeks and one day after the conditional order pronouncement date. If you send it sooner than this, it will be rejected by the court.

The divorce timeline at a glance

For divorce and civil dissolution proceedings there is a 20-week period between the beginning of proceedings (when the application is issued) and when the applicant can apply for a conditional order. This provides the parties with a period of reflection and gives them the opportunity to agree on practical arrangements for the future regarding their finances and any children.

At the end of the 20-week period the applicant can apply for a conditional order, following which they can apply for the final order 6 weeks and a day after the date of the conditional order.

Regarding joint applications, there are two ways that a final order can be obtained. Firstly, one party gives the other 14 days’ notice of their intention to apply for a final order. Following the 14-day notice, the other joint applicant withdraws from the application and becomes the respondent and the notice giver becomes the sole applicant. After a period of 6 weeks and one day from the date of the conditional order they can make an application for a final order.

Alternatively, if joint applicants are in agreement, they can give notice jointly for the conditional order to be made final.

This timescale assumes that there are no financial or childcare issues to resolve, that you are both in agreement, and that all paperwork is completed and filed promptly.

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The information on this website is to be considered a guide and is therefore not legal advice. You use this information with the understanding that Wiselaw does not accept liability for any direct or indirect losses as a result of anyone relying on or acting upon the information on this website. Whilst we endeavour to provide accurate information, Wiselaw does not accept liability for any errors or omissions on this website.