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The truth about 12-week divorces – How long divorce really takes

Every week we get phone calls from people asking for the 12-week divorce service. They are often surprised when we explain that a 12-week divorce service doesn’t exist.

Consenting couples could divorce in three to four months under the old law. But the ability to divorce that quickly was lost when the no-fault divorce law came in last year on the 6th of April 2022.

So how long does a divorce really take? And what can you do to speed the process up? To find out, read on.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

How long does a divorce take?

I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

The latest figures for 2022 published by the Ministry of Justice show that the average time it now takes from filing the divorce petition to obtaining the final order (or decree absolute under the old law) to end the marriage is a painfully long 67 weeks (over 15 months). This is an increase of 14 weeks from 2021.

But before you throw in the towel – I did promise good news too. As an online divorce professional, I’ve never seen a divorce take 67 weeks. A divorce where both parties agree typically takes seven to eight months when using an online service under the new divorce law. It is high street solicitors and paper filings that take the longest. 

Every divorce is different, as every couple has unique circumstances. For an accurate time estimate, you can email us, call us on 0204 530 8101 or book a free consultation here.

The rest of this article will explain what you can do to divorce in the quickest possible time. 

When thinking about speeding up the divorce process, it helps to think of divorce in two ways—the emotional and physical separation of two people and the administrative, legal process.

The court’s staff mainly completes the legal process. While you can’t influence when they work on your case, you can help them process your divorce more quickly by doing the following:

  1. Speak to your ex and tell them that you are applying for a divorce
  2. Make sure that you have the correct, up-to-date address for your ex-husband or wife
  3. Find your marriage certificate and make sure the dates and names on your divorce petition match
  4. Have a copy of your deed poll if you or your ex are using a different name than the one on your marriage certificate
  5. Ensure all other details on the divorce petition are correct and free from typos
  6. Pay the court fees at the same time as you file your divorce
  7. Respond promptly to all court correspondence

Divorce is a multistage process, meaning you must respond and complete various forms at each stage of the divorce. If you are thinking of doing your divorce yourself, read our step-by-step walkthrough here to help you manage your time and pre-empt what you need to do.  

How to deal with your ex-husband or wife to divorce quickly

Often more challenging is removing the obstacles that can get in the way of couples divorcing quickly.

The number one thing that slows down a divorce is a spouse disagreeing with the divorce or being late in responding to the divorce application. This is why it’s beneficial to speak to your spouse and tell them that you want a divorce and that you are applying for one.

Although it is no longer possible for your spouse to defend against the divorce (except on the basis of not having the jurisdiction to deal with the proceedings – which is very rare), your ex can still delay your divorce significantly.

The court must be sure that everybody facing divorce is aware of it. Except in very rare cases, you cannot divorce someone without their involvement. The way that the court makes sure that someone is aware of the divorce is by a process known as the acknowledgement of service.

The way this works is that your spouse receives a letter from the court telling them that you want a divorce and asks them to respond (acknowledge) to the court that they have received the divorce papers. You can find more details on how to complete an acknowledgement of service form here.

What to do if your husband or wife doesn’t respond

Your husband or wife has 14 days to respond, and if they fail to do so, your first step would be to speak to them to find out why. If it was an oversight, they can acknowledge the service and your divorce can progress to the next stage of applying for the conditional order (known as the decree nisi under the old law).

If your ex-wife or husband are hostile and they refuse to respond, then the easiest and quickest way to progress your divorce is to ask the court’s permission to use a bailiff to serve the divorce papers on them. Once served, it is possible to progress your case without your spouse’s involvement because the court has evidence that they are aware of the divorce.

While this sounds like a dream solution for a difficult ex, it should be your last resort if you want a quick divorce because it will add at least four months to your divorce process. Full details of how the bailiff service works can be found here.

How to choose the right divorce service to divorce quickly

The final important factor for a quick divorce is choosing the right service to manage your divorce. The fastest and easiest way to get a divorce is to use an online company.

Online Divorce Providers v Traditional Solicitors

Online divorce companies typically get better results than solicitors because their business focuses on processing divorces as quickly as possible. This means encouraging divorcing couples to seek agreement and have an amicable divorce.

Online divorce providers typically facilitate divorce proceedings rather than ‘represent’ one party (it isn’t possible to represent both parties, this would be a conflict of interest because the purpose of representing a client is to get the best deal for them). This means that an online provider can work with both parties should they wish, which is aligned with the new law’s ability to divorce jointly, which is designed to reduce conflict and costs.

A solicitor, on the other hand, typically charges by the hour and gets paid for every email, phone call and meeting. There are no incentives for them to achieve rapid resolutions so you can divorce quickly. They make more money when arguments drag out the divorce process. This is backed by the latest findings from the Ministry of Justice, which found that cases where both parties or the respondent had legal representation took longer than those cases where only the applicant was represented or where both parties were without legal representation.

I see it in my own experience too. Whenever a respondent hires a traditional solicitor, they immediately try to delay proceedings and create unnecessary problems. 

When should I use a traditional solicitor for my divorce?

You might think there is no place for a traditional solicitor in divorce anymore. You would be right in most cases because 99% of divorce cases don’t need a conventional solicitor. But traditional solicitors do have their place. If your spouse is hiding or disposing of assets or if you are being forceable removed from your former marital home, for example, then you should take specialist legal advice.

Paper filing v Electronic Filings

When talking to online divorce providers, you can work out how fast your divorce will likely be by asking the company how they will file your divorce. If they say a paper filing by post, you will know your divorce will take longer than necessary. The courts do not have the resources to deal with paper applications which means that paper-based divorce will take over a year to complete.

Only companies approved to use HM Court and Tribunals computer systems can file divorces electronically and directly into the Justice Departments’ systems to achieve the fastest divorce time of seven to eight months.

Fully managed divorce v manage the courts yourself

If money is tight and your main objective is to spend the least amount of money possible on your divorce, then managing your divorce yourself is the best option for you. Just be aware that doing it yourself will delay your divorce because you have to learn something new. Like anything, the first time always takes longer. So, your divorce will likely take 12-15 months (depending on whether you do a digital or paper filing).

If a quick divorce is your number one priority, you should pay an online company to manage your divorce for you. Another critical question to ask when you are doing your research is if the online divorce provider deals with the courts on your behalf. Some companies advertise ‘Quickie Divorce for Just £199 – No Courts & No Solicitor Fees’, but they will only prepare your divorce papers and expect you to post the documents to the court or pay for a higher-priced service to do it for you.

The problem with posting your own divorce documents

Posting the documents to the court might not sound like a big deal, but it means that all court correspondence will come to your house, and then you will need to contact your divorce provider to ask them to prepare the paperwork for the next stage adding additional steps that take more time.

Choosing an online provider that will file your divorce electronically (rather than by post) and who will manage the divorce process for you so that all communication goes to them rather than you will divorce you in the quickest possible time of seven to eight months.

Side note: Just be aware of adverts that say ‘No Court Fees’. All divorces attract a court fee of £593 unless you are on a low income or receive certain benefits. Always do your homework and ask if there are any other costs.

Do they understand you?

Finally, before you choose a company, you might find it helpful to call them up and have a chat about your situation. Get a feel for the people who will work on your case. Do they understand you? Do they genuinely want to help? Have they had the experience and life skills to help you navigate your divorce? This will give you a sense of whether they have your best interests at heart.

How Easy Online Divorce can help you

If you want to get a divorce, we are here to help. Not only is our team highly trained and knowledgeable, but they also have life experiences and have been through divorce, and know how you feel.

Unlike high-street solicitors, we use the latest technology to provide the most convenient, fast and cost-effective divorce in the UK. When you use our service, you don’t need to:

  • Waste time visiting offices to provide paperwork
  • Get frustrated from being passed around by secretaries and receptionists
  • Spend over £180 per hour on legal fees with no control over costs
  • Wait over a year to finalise your divorce

All our services include dealing with the courts for you – we don’t charge extra for this.

Easy Online Divorce is the perfect solution if you are looking to save time, stress and money when seeking a divorce. We can handle everything for you so that you can carry on with your life without the stress, worry or excessive legal fees.

How much does an Easy Online Divorce cost?

A fully managed divorce costs £249, and we have a couple’s service where we work with both of you for £489. Both are backed by a success guarantee. We have made our divorce process so simple that you can begin your divorce proceedings in less than 5 minutes from home or work without needing to take any time off work or learn any complicated legal jargon.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the process, but if you need us, we are available to help you as quickly as possible. We are the most accessible divorce company in the UK, meaning you can contact us when YOU need us via email, WhatsApp or telephone.

To start your divorce today, order here. If you have any questions, call us on 0204 530 8101, send us an email or book a free consultation with us here.

Key Takeaways

For the quickest possible divorce, talk with your ex and tell them that you are applying for a divorce. Make sure that you have their correct address and your marriage certificate and deed poll to hand if you changed your name.

Select an online divorce provider to manage your divorce for you. Choose one that will file your divorce petition electronically rather than by post. Also, make sure that the divorce provider will receive and deal with all correspondence from the court on your behalf rather than it going to you first.

If you follow this advice your divorce will take seven to eight months and it will cost you around £250 + the £593 court fee. This is a significant time saving on the UK average of 15 months and will save you around £1000 in legal costs compared to a high street solicitor.

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