How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in the UK?

Updated April 17, 2017

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 12.2 of every 1,000 marriages end in divorce in the United Kingdom (U.K.). When it comes to the complex matter of divorce law in England and Wales, there are specific documents that must be filed by both parties. When these documents are not filed, divorces take longer than normal. A divorce in the U.K. takes between four and six months. Here is some information about the steps to take to get a divorce in the United Kingdom.


The first step to start a 16 week divorce settlement is to file the divorce petition. This documents states which party is initiating the divorce and stipulates the grounds in which the divorce is being filed. When children under the age of 16 are involved, a Statement of Arrangements for the child must be included. This should include specific details intended for the child, including custody and living arrangements. These documents and a 300 pound fee should be sent to the court in order for the process to begin.


Once the court reviews all documents and are satisfied that everything meets the requirements, the divorce is officially issued to the Respondent (the spouse who did not file the divorce). The Respondent is given the Statement of Arrangements and a Acknowledgment of Service form to return to the courts.


The Respondent must return all forms to the court within seven days agreeing or disagreeing with the divorce proceedings. If they want to dispute the claim, they have 28 days to file an "Answer" after receiving the Acknowledgement of Service form.


The Acknowledgement of Service form is sent to the Petitioner (the spouse who filed for divorce) along with an Affidavit. The Affidavit is the legal term for something that is written and held under oath to be true. The Petitioner must sign a form stating everything that has been said is factual, which is then sent to the court with the Acknowledgement of Service.

Decree Nisi

If all forms are approved by the court, a date for the Decree Nisi is set. No one must be present in court at this time unless the couple needs to set arrangement for the children.

Application and Receipt

Six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi is announced, the Petitioner is allowed to apply for a Decree Absolute. This costs 40 pounds, but once this is granted by the court, the divorce is official. If the Petitioner does not apply for this, the Respondent can apply three months later.

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About the Author

Melissa Warner is a freelance writer and editor in Milwaukee, Wis. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including "The Irish American Post" and "The London Student." Warner received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.