Call: 0800 321 3832 Request a free callback

Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law

What is the divorce process and timeline?

By , on Tuesday June 25, 2024 at 3:28 pm

While the circumstances surrounding a divorce may be different for every separating couple, the standard process will typically remain the same.

It is important to have a clear understanding of what the divorce procedure involves so that you know what to expect and what the anticipated timeline will be.

Our expert divorce solicitors have substantial experience in supporting couples through all of the stages of divorce. We can ensure that the process remains as straightforward as possible and advise you on your rights and the issues you need to consider, including arrangements for your children and finances.

How to start the divorce process

Starting the divorce process in the UK is relatively straightforward. The first step in initiating a divorce is for one or both parties to complete a divorce application, requesting the Court to grant a divorce. The application can be submitted online.

The application itself should contain details about both parties and a statement of irretrievable breakdown. However, since the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, a reason for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is no longer required.

If a couple starts the divorce process together, this is known as a joint divorce application, and they will be referred to as joint applicants. If one spouse makes a divorce application by themselves, they will be referred to as the Applicant, and the other spouse is referred to as the Respondent.

What is the divorce process and timeline in the UK?

After the initial divorce application is submitted, along with a copy of the marriage certificate and Court fee, the stages of divorce are as follows:

  • Service of the application (for sole applications)
  • Acknowledging service of the application (for sole applications)
  • Application for a Conditional Order
  • Application for a Final Order
  • Receipt of the Final Order

Service of the application (for sole applications)

For sole applications, the Court will start by issuing the divorce application, sending it to the Respondent along with the Acknowledgement of Service form for them to complete and return.

Acknowledging service of the application (for sole applications)

The Respondent is required to return the Acknowledgement of Service Form within 14 days. When responding, they can indicate whether or not they wish to dispute the divorce proceedings, though the grounds on which to dispute a divorce are limited.

Even if the Respondent fails to respond within the 14-day time limit, the Applicant can still proceed with the divorce.

Application for a Conditional Order

The Conditional Order (formerly Decree Nisi) is a document that confirms the Court does not see any reason why the divorce cannot go ahead. If the Court is happy with the documentation that has been submitted, they will set a date for when the Conditional Order will be pronounced in Court.

There is a minimum waiting period of 20 weeks between the divorce application being issued and the Conditional Order being pronounced.

Application for a Final Order

Six weeks after the Conditional Order is pronounced, the Applicant(s) can apply for the Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute) which, once granted, confirms the divorce.

Receipt of the Final Order

Following the pronouncement of the Final Order, a copy is sent to both parties. Once this Final Order is granted and sealed, a couple are officially divorced.

Taking the steps above into consideration, the legal process of a divorce would take a minimum of seven months. Note that this divorce timeline does not account for any court delays, delays from a Respondent or errors made during the application process.

How do you make additional arrangements during a divorce?

Aside from the process of making a divorce application, you will also need to separately come to a financial agreement and decide on arrangements for any children you have.

With the support of a solicitor, it is often possible to come to a voluntary agreement over these types of arrangements. Even where you and your former partner may initially have differing views, various methods of dispute resolution can be used to help reach an agreement which is acceptable to both sides and is well-suited to the needs of any children.

It is sensible to start considering these types of arrangements as soon as a divorce application has been submitted, as this can help to prevent matters from dragging on well after a Final Order has been issued.

If one or both parties are entrenched in their position, or it is simply not possible to come to an agreement, it may be necessary to involve the courts. This can often be a long and drawn-out process.

Our solicitors can help

If you are considering divorce and need further advice on your position and what the process will entail, our expert family law solicitors will be able to lend their support and provide you with all the information you need.

At Woolley & Co, Solicitors, our expert divorce lawyers can offer specialist legal advice to guide you through a divorce. Whether you intend to make a sole or joint divorce application, we will be able to clearly explain what actions need to be taken and what steps you can take to reduce the divorce timeline as much as possible.

To take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with an expert local family law solicitor, call 0800 321 3832 or complete our quick online form.

Rebecca Franklin
Divorce lawyer Birmingham

Blog Author - Rebecca Franklin

Rebecca FranklinRebecca Franklin

Rebecca is a divorce and family lawyer based in Birmingham.


Get Advice