How Long Does Divorce Take?

The new year is a popular time for people to start exploring the option of divorce. The festive period can be a stressful time, which forces marital issues to a head for many couples. Additionally, the new year can prompt some to start thinking about the changes that they want to make for a happier life.

Although some people might start to think about divorce, some start to think that it might be too much. Perhaps you don’t know much about the process of divorce or have heard stories about them taking a long time. However, a divorce could only take a matter of months to complete. Additionally, the process can be completed even faster now that a no-fault divorce is an option.

Divorce Stages in the UK

How long do divorces take in the UK? The answer is that it depends, and there is no set time frame. However, there are minimum waits between different stages that are important to know. In general, a divorce will take at least 6 months to complete.

It’s important to note that the process for divorce in England and Wales is different to how it works in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Make sure you seek guidance for the correct region.


In England and Wales, the process starts with making an application. You can decide to apply on your own or together with your partner. You can make a joint application if you both agree that the marriage has broken down and you’re not at risk of domestic abuse. The options are to apply online or by post, and there is a fee of £593 to pay.

After you have applied, your application will be checked. If it’s correct, you will receive a notice that the application has been issued, a stamped copy of your application, and a case number. If you are the sole applicant, your spouse receives an acknowledgement of service notice. They have 14 days to agree or dispute the divorce after receiving it. If they dispute, this can make the divorce process longer.

Conditional Order (Decree Nisi)

You must then wait for 20 weeks before you can continue with the divorce by applying for a conditional order. You can do this online or by post. This says that the court sees no reason you can’t get divorced.

Finalise the Divorce

The final stage is to complete the divorce. You need to wait for 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) after you receive your conditional order or decree nisi before you can apply to do this. If you want a legally binding agreement to divide money and property, you need to apply for this before getting your final order.

Complicating Factors

The process of getting divorced will take at least 26 weeks and 1 day from your application, but it could take longer. Your divorce could be delayed if you and your spouse can’t agree on the divorce, if they stop responding, if you want to make legal arrangements for your children or assets, or if your spouse lacks mental capacity.

There is so much information online around divorces and how they should play out that it’s hard to know what to believe. For more information about the process or to book a free initial consultation, please get in touch with one of our family solicitors today.