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Why Divorce takes so long

Posted on Thursday, 17th September 2015 by

The Divorce process does not need to take long.

divorce process








If both parties agree and cooperate with the process, the marriage can be ended within 4-6 months. In majority of cases it is not even necessary to attend court.  It can all be dealt with by submission of papers to the court.

Reasons why a divorce can take longer than 6 months:


There are several reasons why it can take longer. For example, both parties may not be in agreement to the Divorce. They may both accept that the marriage is at an end but do not agree with the facts that need to be relied on to issue Divorce Proceedings. This will result in delay, as parties have to agree or alternatively wait and compromise.

long divorce process









You are required to establish why the marriage has broken down relying on one of the 5 facts laid down by law. These facts are:


  • The other party has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to continue living together
  • The other party has behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect you to continue living together
  • The other party has deserted you for a continuous period of 2 years or more
  • You have been living separately for 2 years or more and both parties agrees to the divorce
  • You have been living separately for 5 years or more.

Please bare in mind that the procedure is the same whichever fact is relied on.

Divorce Myth


There is no such thing as an automatic divorce after a certain period of separation.

Other reasons why the divorce may take longer than expected:


  1. Parties have not agreed on the division of their property and finances and therefore this delays the Divorce – It is normally advisable not to apply for the final Decree Absolute (which ends the marriage), until all issues in relation to the children and finances are agreed or decision made by the court.
  2. Divorce causes pain and often parties are not at the same stage of the cycle of grief – This means that one party may not accept it is over and chooses to defend the proceedings. In this case it becomes contested and there has to be a hearing before the court to determine whether the ground and the facts relied on is proven or not.
  3. One party can not be found either because they have moved and lost contact or they are deliberately avoiding service of the papers – With mobility and free movement it is often the case that one party has moved abroad  following separation. This again can result in delay as the other party has to have received notification of the proceedings being issued.
  4. In some cases the delay is due to courts taking a long time to process the applications. This can arise if there is shortage of staff at a particular court – There are more applications listed in one court and this can cause the delay in processing. The process is being centralised and there are 11 centres in England & Wales where all divorce applications are to be issued, however some of these are not yet open.  There are no restrictions as to which centre should be used.  Sometimes knowing where to issue can help with expediting the process.

If you would like to talk to me about a Divorce matter or would like to discuss a family law issue please don’t hesitate to get in touch or contact the family law team.

If you found this article helpful, we would recommend reading our previous post, ‘A “DIY Divorce” will take longer.

Talk to our legal team

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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