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How to get a fast divorce in the UK

The idea of a quickie divorce is a myth but there are plenty of things you can do to give your divorce the best chance of going through as quickly as possible.

There is no such thing as a quickie divorce in England and Wales. The whole idea, perpetuated by the media, is a myth. Whoever you are and however much money you have, the absolute fastest a divorce can go through is around 12 weeks. This is because the case happens in stages, some of which have time constraints attached.

There are things you can do though to make sure it moves as quickly as it can and doesn’t get bogged down at any stage. The best advice, as cold as it may seem, is to be the one to start the divorce. If you are on the receiving end, whilst there is no longer any real stigma attached to being the respondent in most people’s eyes, you cannot control how quickly the divorce moves along. By starting the divorce (being the petitioner as it’s known legally) you are in the driving seat meaning you have a clear start to the process rather than hanging around thinking “will they, won’t they” for what may be months.

Here are some other top tips:

  • Keep the particulars (“reasons”) as gentle as possible. Unreasonable behaviours is the most common ground for divorce in the UK but it requires you to list examples of behaviour that you find to be unacceptable. Whilst you may be keen to put the knife in and point out everything they have ever done to annoy you, you actually only need to fill out a very small paragraph. The judge isn’t looking for anything exciting, and is not likely to reject any of the examples given. He just wants evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. Keep them general to avoid getting the other party’s back up which could make them more likely to contest the divorce, which you really don’t want
  • Obtain an official copy of your marriage certificate, or dig out the original, early on. The court cannot start the process without this. Very often, this adds a delay at the start, as it can take up to 14 days to get a copy of a certificate from the church or Register Office.
  • Warn your spouse before you start. Most defended divorce suits are as a result of not preparing the other side. They become defensive and feel the need to retaliate if they suddenly get a letter out of the blue. Agree as much about the process with your spouse as you can in advance, including the wording of the particulars – that way, they won’t object when they see the paperwork and will sign it promptly. This will make the process run more quickly.
  • Use a solicitor to at least offer you guidance on the forms. The process can be wordy and misleading in parts. Every mistake results in a delay, and usually an amendment fee at the court. There has been a growing trend for people to do as much as possible themselves without legal advice. However, there has been a corresponding slowing down of cases. You might think you are saving money by scrimping on solicitors, but the reality is it will likely cost you more time and more money.

Some parts of this advice will be easier to follow than others and, whatever you do, you cannot legislate for the actions of the other party. However, if you do take these tips on board it gives you the best chance of getting as close to that mythical quickie divorce as possible.

Davina Warrington
Family solicitor, Staffordshire

Blog Author - Davina Warrington

Davina WarringtonDavina Warrington

Woolley & Co's Burton upon Trent-based family solicitor Davina, specialises in divorce, financial settlements and family law.


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