The first thing to know about divorces in the UK is that you need to have already been married for 12 months or longer. The process of obtaining a divorce in England and Wales is accomplished by running through several steps. Each step requires certain documents to be completed and filed at the respective court.
Where divorces become more complicated or take longer is usually either because the paperwork wasn’t completed correctly or due to an inability to reach an amicable agreement between both parties involved. When couples use litigation and divorce to get back at the other person for perceived wrongs, the divorce often stalls until an agreement can be reached and the process resumes once again.
How Long Do Divorces Take?
There is no average divorce duration because each case is different. However, it’s a fair estimate that in simple cases where there’s an amicable agreement and no party has to go to court, then completing a divorce in half a year is not uncommon. When there’s a lack of agreement, children involved, or a court date is required to discuss matters in person, then the divorce is likely to take considerably longer.
What Are The First Steps?
Divorce solicitors in London are perfectly positioned to handle divorce proceedings from beginning to end. Matters proceed in a logical fashion, one step at a time. It’s not possible to jump ahead with the steps because the current step must be completed or approved before moving on to the next one.
The first step is to complete a divorce application, which is filed with the court to formally request a divorce. The application includes the cited reason(s) for the filing. Only one-person files for divorce and they’re known as the Applicant through the whole process. The other party is called the Respondent. In situations where there is a third party involved, for instance with adultery, they’re called the Co-Respondent.
Three More Steps
The court looks at the application, confirms the information is correct and produces the divorce application, which is given to the Respondent for their response. The Respondent is given an Acknowledgement of Service form to complete to send to the court.
A response is required within seven days to confirm if they wish to dispute the filing or not. An “Answer” must be filed with the court within 28 days if they do wish to dispute the application.
The Acknowledgement of Service form then goes to the Applicant, who is required to provide an Affidavit to the court to confirm the information is factual.
Decree Nisi & Decree Absolute
Once the court is satisfied with the documents, a date is decided when the Decree Nisi is issued in court. In most cases, it’s not necessary for either party to attend. Some six weeks and a day following the issuance of the Decree Nisi, the Applicant can prepare an application for the Decree Absolute. This goes to the court, and once agreed by the court and sealed officially, both parties are now divorced. In a situation where the Applicant fails to seek the Decree Absolute, after a period of three months, the Respondent can apply instead. The Decree Absolute is then issued and must be kept safe.
The process of getting divorced is only traumatic if either party wishes to contest property or parental rights. When agreements cannot be reached easily, and mediation doesn’t work either, then divorce proceedings take considerably longer and become costlier. It is in the best interests of both parties to reach an amicable agreement wherever possible.