Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a divorce take?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’, even if you are a celebrity!

For more information on the ‘quickie divorce’ myth please read our blog here.

Everyone must follow the same steps:

  • The party seeking a divorce (the Petitioner) must state in the Divorce Petition that the marriage has ‘broken down irretrievably’ by proving one of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ desertion, two years’ separation with consent, or five years’ separation. The Petition must be lodged with the Court, along with the original marriage certificate and a fee (currently £550).
  • Once the Petition has been lodged with the Court, the Court will then serve it on the other party (the Respondent), who must then confirm that the divorce should go ahead, or object and defend the Petition. They will need to file an Acknowledgement of Service form within 8 days of receiving the Petition.
  • If the Respondent doesn’t object, the Petitioner can apply to the Court for the ‘Decree Nisi’. There is no need for the parties to attend a hearing. The judge simply reviews the application and if all is in order, pronounces the Decree Nisi by reading it out in Court. As a guide, a Decree Nisi is usually pronounced within 6 – 8 weeks of issuing the Petition.
  • The Petitioner must then wait a statutory 6 weeks and 1 day from the date of the Decree Nisi before applying for the Decree Absolute which is the final stage of the process. Only when the Decree Absolute is pronounced are the parties legally divorced. If for some reason the Petitioner does not apply for the Decree Absolute, the Respondent may do so 3 months after the 6 week and 1 day period has expired.

In practice, the length of time between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute is often far longer than 6 weeks and 1 day as it is advisable to come to an agreement with your spouse regarding finances before dissolving the marriage.

If everything has been agreed in terms of finances, the divorce process from the date of issuing a Petition to obtaining a Decree Absolute, should be around 5 – 6 months.

It is now possible for individuals to apply for a divorce online: www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce. The application fee is the same as the paper process (£550), and it is hoped that this method may cut down on some of the delays of the paper process, although the statutory wait of 6 weeks and 1 day between Decree Nisi and applying for Decree Absolute still applies.