Getting A Divorce? How Long Does a Decree Absolute Take?

Divorce is a tumultuous, difficult and often confusing time for all involved. Understandably, most want their divorce to be pushed through as quickly and seamlessly as possible, however due to the process involved, it can take many month and cost upwards of £1,000 in solicitors fees and court costs. The whole process from start to finish, is likely to take around 22 weeks an decree absolute pronounced which is the formal legally binding end of the marriage.

For those wanting to get a divorce, there are two main stages in a divorce proceeding, starting with a decree nisi and ends with a decree absolute. This article is here to help you understand and anticipate the process ahead.

Decree Nisi

A decree nisi is the initial court order (document) confirming the timescale by which a marriage will cease unless a valid reason not to proceed with the divorce is made available. If either the husband or wife do not want to proceed with the divorce, you can still apply for a decree nisi but you will have to present your argument for divorce in front of a judge who will either grant or deny a decree nisi.

How Long Does a Decree Nisi Take?

Once you have obtained your decree nisi, you can then begin the process of agreeing your financial settlement. The financial order is essentially a legally binding document outlining how you wish to divide your assets and ensures that you have no future financial obligations to one another.

There are two main types of financial order; a Clean Break Order and a Consent Order. A Clean Break Order is applicable to those who have no financial assets to split but wish to ensure that neither party will have any financial obligation to one another in the future. The only difference between a Clean Break Order and a Consent Order is that the latter is applicable to those who have financial assets that they wish to split.

Decree Absolute

A decree absolute is the legal form given when you have finally ceased your marriage. You can apply for a decree absolute after a minimum of 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) from the date of issue of your decree nisi, provided no valid reason not to divorce is given after the issued date. It is advisable, though not essential, to have your final financial order in place before applying.

You must also remember to apply for your decree absolute within a time frame of 12 months. If you apply outside of this period, you may have to provide an explanation as to why in court. Once Requested, How Long Do I Have to Wait? Once you have submitted your decree absolute application to the court, your divorced should be finalised within approximately 3 weeks but timescales can vary.

How Much does Getting Divorced Cost?

In the UK, this really depends whether the divorce is contested, and whether you need to go to court to settle any custody or financial agreements. If you need to get solicitors involved, the bill will increase substantially with every hour your solicitor works. If your divorce is not contested, the fee’s are the following;

  • £1,000 if you are the one seeking the divorce (the ‘petitioner’)
  • £240 if you are the other spouse (the ‘respondent’)

How Much Do Solicitors Charge per Hour?

If you cannot agree to the terms of your divorce, the first step is to speak with a solicitor and discuss your options. The cost of a solicitor depends on the legal firm, the complexity of the work, length of negotiations, and your location in the UK. You’ll typically be charged £150 per hour for a junior solicitor from a mid-tier legal practice, but this will increase substantially for a more experienced senior negotiating solicitor to finalise the terms of your divorce.

£500 to £1,000 an hour is the normally for a mid-to-top firm in London and while most solicitors in the UK offer a fixed package, if your case is complex and you need to negotiate a financial settlement or the financial application goes to a final court hearing, the cost’s could be endless.

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

If you cannot agree to the terms of your divorce and need to include solicitors to help you reach an agreement, the first step will usually be some form of mediation. Given the huge cost’s involved in using solictors, courts will generally suggest that you seek help from a relationship support provider, where a trained mediator will help you to arrive at an agreement amicably, with no need for court action.

Mediation costs are much cheaper than solicitors. Generally you’ll pay around £100 for an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). During this meeting, you’ll discuss the basic parameters to your disagreement, and try to understand whether there is any point in even thinking about mediation. The MIAM meeting is generally a legal requirement as a prerequisite for your case going to court at a later date. If you choose the mediation route, you’ll pay around £150 per hour for a trained mediator with most cases requiring around 10 hours.

Final Thoughts

Remember to safely and securely store your decree absolute document as the original will be required in the event that you wish to remarry in the future. Should you misplace your original, you can request a certified copy for a cost of £45. This cost is reduced to £10 if you can recall your case number and the court from which it was issued.

Once you have received your decree absolute, it is official that you are now legally divorced and can start thinking about the practical things you need complete to make your divorce final. The important changes include the following:

  • Will – Think about your Will and who your beneficiaries are? You may need to change this, especially if you’re going to remarry
  • Passport and Driving Licences will need to be changed if you’re reverting back to your maiden name.
  • Loans and Mortgages – You must make sure you tell both your mortgage provider and your bank that you’re no longer married.
  • Bank Accounts – While the financial aspects of you divorce should have been sorted out, you will still need to close any joint bank accounts or saving accounts and change the personal contact details.
  • Notifying HM Revenue & Customs is written by David Jacobs who is on a quest to retire early and get out of the rat race. David is a financial expert who lives for early retirement. Follow his journey making money, saving and investing to retire early and get the best out of his retirement.

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