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Ministry of Justice Update: Divorce Proceedings take a year to get through the Court

One of the questions we are most frequently asked at a first meeting is ‘how long does it take to get divorced?’ Whilst it used to be the case that the most straightforward of divorces (where there are no financial or children issues to resolve) took four to six months to get from petition to decree absolute, the latest statistics indicate that the average divorce now takes 51.3 weeks, so a little under a year.

It is often reported in the media that celebrity couples have obtained a ‘quickie divorce.’ Unfortunately, this is a misleading statement as there is no expedited process for divorce in England & Wales.

The pace of the divorce is determined by the workload in the regional divorce centres. These divorce centres have been delegated the responsibility of processing the administrative aspects of divorce proceedings only. Whilst divorce proceedings were previously processed by local courts (of which there were many), there are now only 11 divorce centres in England & Wales which has led to a significant backlog of work. Unfortunately at present, it is not unusual for an application to take 2 – 3 months to be processed by the Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre, the regional centre for London and the South East. Please be assured that at Rayden Solicitors, we actively chase the divorce centres for updates and keep you fully apprised as to any developments with your case.

The delays occasioned by the backlog of work are frustrating for all concerned, particularly in circumstances where the parties have reached a financial agreement which cannot be sent to Court until Decree Nisi has been pronounced. In these circumstances, we would usually suggest that a Consent Order embodying the agreement is drafted and held on the solicitors’ file, until the pronouncement of Decree Nisi.

In the event there are specific and urgent reasons why the divorce needs to be processed quicker, such as the birth of a child from a new relationship, please contact us at the earliest opportunity. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to apply to the Court for the period of time between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute to be shortened from the standard 6 weeks and 1 day – however this is entirely dependent on the specific facts of your case. Applications to expedite the decree absolute will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. You should speak to a Family Law specialist urgently if you think this may apply to your case.

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If you require assistance with any aspect of Family Law, please contact us on 01727 734260.

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