Home → LifeStyle →

How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced in the UK

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated May, 16, 2022

If you’re planning on getting divorced, you probably want to do it as quickly as possible. 

But, how long does it take to get divorced in the UK?

Let’s dive in.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

The length of the divorce process depends on a variety of factors, the biggest of which is whether the partners have resolved all major issues before applying for a divorce.

Uncontested divorces in England and in the UK, in general, are relatively straightforward and can take anywhere between four to six months

On average, it takes about a year for a divorce to be finalised but the process may last substantially longer if the partners are not in agreement, especially in cases where there are child/spousal support disputes, custody battles, disagreements about the division of debt and/or property.

The Divorce Timeline in the UK

Getting a divorce is a process that requires following certain legal procedures. Here’s what you need to do to get a divorce and how long each step usually takes.

Filing a D8 divorce petition form – 6 to 10 weeks

The divorce process starts with submitting a divorce petition form to the court.

The divorce petition is the most important document in a divorce case because it outlines why a person is seeking a divorce, which ultimately decides whether the application is approved. It also contains personal information and marriage specifics.

Acknowledgment of service –  2 to 4 weeks

After the court verifies and confirms the information provided in the divorce petition, it will send a copy of the petition with an acknowledgment of service to your spouse to complete. Once they do, the court will send you their copy. 

You’ll then have 2-4 weeks to apply for a decree nisi. 

Applying for decree nisi –  6 to 8 weeks

Applying for a decree nisi will trigger another, more detailed examination of your divorce petition. The court will look to determine whether you have valid grounds for divorce and if you’ve met all legal and procedural requirements to obtain one. 

Decree nisi pronouncement – 6 weeks + 1 day

Following the pronouncement of the decree nisi, the applicant has to wait a minimum of 43 days to apply for a decree absolute.  The pronouncement confirms that the court doesn’t see any reason why you shouldn’t get divorced

Applying for a decree absolute – 2 days

The final step in the divorce process is applying for an absolute decree, which is a legal document that officially ends your marriage. It takes the court around 2 days to send you the divorce papers after applying for a decree absolute.

Things to Know About UK Divorce Process Before Getting Started

To start a divorcing procedure, you’ll first have to check if you are eligible for a divorce in the UK.

To get a divorce in the UK,

  • You must have been married for longer than a year
  • Your relationship has permanently ended
  • Your marriage is legal in the UK
  • You live in the UK permanently

If you’re not eligible for a divorce, you may be able to get an annulment or a legal separation. 

If you want to potentially avoid divorce, you might want to look into civil partnerships, where the procedure is different. 

Grounds For Divorce in the UK 

Marriages and divorce are on a decline. But to be eligible for a divorce, you have to prove to the court that you have a valid reason for wanting the marriage to end. Courts only allow divorces in cases where the relationship between the partners is thought to be beyond salvageable. 

Here are 5 reasons for ending a marriage that courts find acceptable (under the law).

Adultery

If your spouse has engaged in sexual relations with someone else, then you have grounds to contest the marriage, unless you’ve lived in the same house for six months after learning about it. 

Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour includes verbal abuse, physical violence, drug use, and refusal to participate in sharing living costs. This is also the most common grounds for divorce in the UK.

Desertion

You can cite desertion in your divorce form if your spouse has left you for two years or longer

Separation

One of the partners can file for divorce if they’ve been separated for 2-5 years or longer. It is possible to prove that the spouses have been separated even if they’ve lived in the same house.

If you’ve been separated for 5 years or more, you can file for divorce, even if your spouse objects.

What is the quickest way to get a divorce in the UK?

Here’s what you can do to prevent unnecessary delays. 

  • Double-check your divorce petition. The court will automatically reject it if there is something missing or there are any spelling mistakes. 
  • Inform your partners of your intentions if possible. They’ll know what to expect and prepare to fill out the necessary paperwork. 
  • File your applications as soon as permissible.
  • File for a divorce online. The process is much quicker and it eliminates possible delays.
  • Try divorce mediation. This process, which involves a mediator, can help the spouses navigate through issues that usually slow down the divorce procedures.
  • Try collaborative law: This allows the spouses to negotiate the terms of the divorce with the help of legal representation. 

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering “how long does it take to get divorced in the UK?”, the answer depends on a variety of factors. An undisputed divorce can take up to 6 months, but it can last for over a year if there are disagreements between the spouses.

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.