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Why does it take so long to get divorced?

View profile for Philip Hoddell
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Recently published statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that it is now taking longer to get divorced than at any time since records first began.  


So, how long does it take to get divorced?

The average time from the issue of a divorce petition to the decree nisi is now up from 23 weeks to 28 weeks. The average time to get from divorce petition to decree absolute is now a massive 54 weeks – over a year! 

Why does it take so long to get divorced?

As divorce lawyers dealing with a lot of cases each year, we are fairly sure we know the answer.  Increased centralisation has been the direct cause of the slowdown in cases. Our local courts used to process divorces in half the time that we are now being told are the averages.  

How can we speed the divorce process up?

There has been a lot of talk about the introduction of ‘no fault divorce’. If it does come in, it is very unlikely to speed up the process of divorce itself as most of the delays occur within the court system.  
What we can do is to make sure that:-
a. We check whether divorces are likely to be contested or uncontested before we issue the petitions;
b. We aim to ensure that the documentation is all accurate so that it is not rejected by the court (causing even further delays);
c. We choose the right court to issue the divorce proceedings in. Divorces are now dealt with via regional divorce centres and some are much more efficient than others.

What is being done to speed up divorce?

The Ministry of Justice is piloting online divorce with the intention to speed up the whole process.  There are no current plans to roll this out across the country, but early signs are that making the divorce forms much easier is leading to fewer rejections. Whether in doing so we are further trivialising the whole subject is probably a discussion for another day.  

How can Birkett Long help?

We have a team of experienced divorce lawyers who recognise the importance of dealing with children cases, financial problems and working with separating couples who are planning for their future. If we can help you with any of these issues then why not give us a call for a free 15 minute chat about your own situation? I am available at our Colchester office on 01206 217320 or alternatively you can email me at