For many of us, the most depressing thing about Monday 7th January is that it marks the first full week back at work after the new year. However, for some it is also the day that marks the end of their marriage. In fact, so many people pick up the phone to a divorce lawyer on this day that is now known as ‘Divorce Day’.
A sadder statistic still is that 13 divorce petitions were filed online on Christmas Day 2018. This may seem like a knee jerk reaction to family rows over the festive season but it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice shows that the length of time to complete a divorce is increasing.
There is a common misconception that a divorce can be finalised in a matter of a few weeks – also known as the “quickie” divorce as portrayed in the media. This is not the case. There is a process that, by law, must be followed which includes a minimum waiting period between the grant of the Decree Nisi and the Absolute.
The average time from filing a divorce petition to being granted a Decree Nisi is now 31 weeks, and then to Decree Absolute 56 weeks, both up 7 weeks compared to the same period in 2017. This means that even if you start the process immediately after this Christmas it is likely to still be dragging on into the next Christmas!
The number of divorce petitions being filed is also increasing. In the period from July to September 2018, 29,971 divorce petitions were filed, an increase of 7% on the same time last year.
Add to this the centralisation of the family courts and the under-staffing and its likely that this time scale is going to increase.
This all, of course, adds to the stress and anxiety felt by clients when they start out on this path. Often it has taken many months, if not years to make the decision to end a marriage and it can come as an unpleasant surprise to then discover that the process itself is slow and cumbersome. In the near future, it is hoped that all courts will allow the electronic filing of divorce documents which should also speed up the process.
Picking a lawyer that you can trust and build a rapport with makes the whole process much more manageable. There are many different personalities out there and you need to find the right one for you.
The family team at Pinney Talfourd are members of Resolution and adopt a collaborative approach to separation and divorce, meaning that once you start on this path we will make it as amicable as possible for all parties. We understand that seeing a solicitor for the first time about any issue relating to the break-up of your marriage or relationship can be a difficult and daunting experience.
There are ten lawyers in our team. We are currently offering a free 30-minute initial meeting to allow you to meet one of the team and get some general advice. This will enable you to plan your future and determine what the best next steps are for you to take.
Simply contact any member of the family team who will be happy to help you.This article was written by Sue Nash, a Senior Associate in our Family Law Team. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2019.