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How Long Does a Divorce Take?

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Going through a divorce can be an emotional time, and naturally, couples prefer to get through the process as quickly as possible. As such, divorcing couples are often keen to know exactly how long it takes to get divorced.

The amount of time it takes to get a divorce depends on several factors, and recent changes to divorce law have affected the procedures and timeframe. As of April 6th, 2022, no-fault divorce legislation has replaced the previous long-standing divorce law. Before we consider the average divorce time scale, let’s examine the recent key changes to UK divorce law.

What is no-fault divorce?

‘No fault’ divorce has been introduced as a part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. Under the new rules, divorcing couples no longer have to attribute blame to one partner when applying for a divorce. Instead, the couple can mutually agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Either partner can offer a statement declaring that the marriage has failed and will not need to include evidence about wrongdoing.

Previous divorce laws required one individual to initiate the divorce filing process; the only way to do this was by relying on a ‘fact’ concerning the conduct of the other party. The person applying for divorce was required to choose one of three reasons: desertion, unreasonable behaviour, or adultery.

If the couple could not confirm or prove one of these reasons, they could also apply for a divorce on the following grounds:

A separation period of two years: Couples could previously separate with consent, if both people agreed to a divorce and if the spouses had been living separately for at least two years.

A separation period of five years: Partners could obtain a divorce without consent, if the couple had lived apart for five years. With this option, it was not necessary for both parties to agree to the divorce. agree to the divorce.

What are key changes to UK divorce law?

As mentioned above, under no-fault law, couples no longer need to provide a reason for divorce. No-fault divorce includes several other key reforms to the UK divorce law including:

Divorcing couples can complete a joint application: Before April 6th, 2022, a divorce could only be initiated by one partner. No-fault divorce law permits the couple to make a joint application. It’s believed that this change will help to reduce conflict and encourage more amicable divorces.

Contested divorce is no longer an option: Previously, one spouse needed to provide a reason for divorce, and if the other party disagreed, that person could contest the divorce. No-fault divorce legislation removes the option to contest a divorce.

How long does a divorce take?

According to no-fault divorce law, there must be a minimum cooling- off period of 20 weeks between the primary application and obtaining a conditional order. Once the conditional order is finalised, there must be a 6-week period before receiving the final order. Due to these changes, divorce processes will take a minimum of six months to complete, potentially longer, depending on the circumstances.

Couples with children may experience longer divorce procedures, it can take some time to agree on child arrangements. Attending court will also add time to the process, it’s generally faster to keep matters out of court, if possible. To ensure a smooth divorce process you’ll need the support of expert family law solicitors.

Will no-fault divorce be faster?

Under the previous divorce law, couples could obtain a divorce in 4-5 months, providing that the divorce was straightforward and uncontested. However, divorces are often rife with conflict and complications, meaning that for some couples, divorcing under the old law could take years.

The procedure length previously depended on whether both parties agreed, and the grounds used. With no-fault divorce law, there is no need to provide a reason, and no option to contest. These reforms mean that couples will be able to avoid drawn-out divorce processes and get divorced faster.

No-fault divorce will help couples to reduce conflict, limiting the negative impact on any children involved. With more straightforward divorce procedures, couples will potentially be able to access lower legal fees.

Why choose Atkins hope?

If you are looking to get divorced, we can offer expert legal help, to assist you through the process. Our legal team at Atkins Hope have plenty of experience in family law, so you can be confident that you’re receiving the best support. We understand that getting divorced can be a stressful time and are here to provide practical yet sensitive guidance.

To discuss your needs with one of our divorce solicitors today, call us on 0208 680 5018 or contact one of our Atkins Hope offices in Croydon, Blackheath, or Guildford.