How long does it take to get a divorce in the UK?

The answer to this question is a frustrating one for many clients, because the short answer is: “it depends!”

Provided that you can satisfy the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the process of obtaining a divorce is usually quite straightforward. In theory, a simple divorce could take just a couple of months. However, for most clients, legally divorcing is just one part of ending a marriage. Common practical issues include:

  • Where will the children live after divorce?
  • How much time will each parent spend with the children following divorce?
  • Where will both parties live after divorce?
  • How will assets be shared between the parties after divorce?

In cases where the parties cannot quickly resolve these issues between them, this can extend the divorce process significantly. In this situation, it would not be unusual for the entire process to take anywhere between six to eighteen months, possibly even longer in the most complex of cases.

It is common for solicitors to advise clients against applying for the Decree Absolute (the document which finalises the divorce) until after the financial matters have been resolved and for 28 days after a final order has been rubber stamped by the court. There are a number of reasons for this, the first of which is to guard against the risk of the other party dying before the financial order has been sealed by the court.

One other key factor in the length of time it takes to get a divorce in the UK is where you issue proceedings. Most courts in the UK are currently operating with a backlog of applications for divorce cases. However, the length of this backlog varies dramatically from court to court.

For a more detailed estimate of how long it could take you to finalise your divorce, please contact Sarah Mortimer (

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