Divorces are taking longer – why and what can you do about it?

Divorces are taking longer – why and what can you do about it?

30 January 2020 Beth Woodward

Statistics released by the Family Court in the first half of last year show that compared to the same quarter in 2018 divorces were taking 8 weeks longer. On average it now takes 33 weeks to get from filing your divorce petition with the Court to decree nisi, and 59 weeks to obtain a decree absolute. Does this matter?

The decision to divorce is a huge one and cannot be rushed into.  However, when you have made a decision to petition the Court for a Judge divorce there are a couple of things you can do to speed up the process:

  1. Firstly, if you have never petitioned for a divorce before, the application can be a minefield. A record number of applications are being rejected and often this can be quite late in the process. A recent client petition based on his wife’s unreasonable behaviour was rejected six months later because the Particulars he gave were insufficient. He must now start the process again or file a harsher, more detailed petition. Either way he will have to pay another hefty Court fee.  As a lawyer you only make this mistake once and you learn there is a way of presenting behaviour that is not too hurtful or confrontational but satisfies the Court that the petition for divorce should be granted. The cost of the Court fee is £550. The cost of instructing a solicitor to file the petition for you is not much more.  It is worthwhile consulting a solicitor before you petition for divorce. It can save money and time in the long run.

  2. While waiting 33 weeks for a decree nisi you can use the time to agree a financial settlement. An order can then be lodged with the Court at decree nisi stage. It is advisable to delay applying for decree absolute until you have a concluded financial order. This is because divorce affects inheritance and your spouse’s pension. It can take a surprisingly long time to agree a financial settlement and get it drawn up into a consent order so the sooner you start this process the sooner you can apply for decree absolute.

A divorce is a life changing decision and it is really important you go into it knowing what the future will look like. A solicitor can give you information about the process, timescales and what a fair financial settlement would be. I recommend that you consult a solicitor about your options early on.  Treat it as a fact-finding mission: it does not commit you to anything.  We offer a one hour fixed fee meeting for this purpose. To find out more please contact me, Beth Woodward, on 01908 304560 or email beth.woodward@nevesllp.co.uk or click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for information on our other family lawyers.