How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

The lead up to a divorce can last for months or even years. Coming to this decision is not easy but once you reach this point, many individuals just want the process to be over with. The truth of the matter is that no two divorces will proceed in exactly the same way. What may be a quick and relatively stress-free process for some can be time-consuming and complicated for others.

The road to a complete and legal divorce will look different according to each unique situation but there are a few things that can be done to ensure the process is as painless as possible. In the same way that some actions can encourage a quicker divorce, there are others that will slow the process down.

Filing: It is possible to file a divorce petition at any time following a separation even where the two spouses continue to live in the same home for economic reasons. Not all separations look the same but for the most part it means spouses hold themselves out to others as no longer being a couple, take on separate living arrangements and finances, creating new lives as single individuals. A full and legal divorce will not be granted for at least a year after the date of separation. There are exceptions to this one-year rule, as in the case of abuse or infidelity that has not been forgiven and circumstances where the parties continue to live under the same roof but are living separately under that roof (not cooking or cleaning for each other and not engaging in sexual relations).

Agreements: The timeline of a divorce is heavily dependent on whether or not both parties agree to the terms of a separation. The main points of contention in any separation are parenting and support, as well as property and debt division.

  • Uncontested Divorce: For those spouses who agree on these issues, separation agreements can help to expedite the divorce process. If settlements or agreements are reached, it becomes known as an uncontested divorce or a “desk order” divorce and can take as little as 4 to 6 months.
  • Contested Divorce: If both parties are unable to come to an agreement, it becomes known as a contested divorce. Processing a contested divorce take longer due to the additional steps of mediation and potentially going to trial. Such litigation can easily take 6 months to 2 years to fully resolve.

Paperwork: Divorces are not possible without paperwork. Many people struggle with paperwork at the best of times, but legal terminology and concepts can make this even more difficult. If forms are filled out or submitted incorrectly, it can take weeks or months to notice the problem, causing lengthy delays. Seeking help from a family lawyer is a great option for navigating the complicated filing process.

Reconciliation: An attempt to reconcile with a partner does not necessarily impact the timeline of a divorce. It is not uncommon for separating spouses to attempt reconciliation at least once before terminating a marriage completely. Parties may resume cohabitation for up to a total of 90 days while trying to repair a relationship. If a reconciliation is not possible within 90 days of attempted reconciliation, the original date of separation can be used when filing.

There is no one answer to the question of “how long does it take to get divorced?” As with any complicated legal process, there are pitfalls and there are advantages. It is important to consider expert legal representation when moving forward with the divorce process. Our experienced Surrey Divorce and Separation Lawyers can help to ensure that all steps are followed to the letter, making the process as quick and painless as possible.