How long does a divorce take?

How long does a divorce take? Discover the steps and timelines of the divorce process

Divorce is a profound event in the lives of everyone affected by it. It is often an emotional and complex process that happens differently for each couple. Understanding the steps and the time each phase takes can help you better prepare for divorce proceedings and have realistic expectations of the process. This blog provides an overview of what to expect during divorce proceedings and how long they can typically take.

In the Netherlands, divorce proceedings take place through the court. A lawyer files a petition for divorce with the court, which can be a joint petition or a unilateral petition. The duration of a divorce can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the case and the cooperation of both parties.

Below are some general steps and time indications for a divorce process:

Preparation and submission of the application:

The first critical stage of a divorce is preparing and filing the petition for divorce.

Joint petition for divorce

In a joint petition, both partners agree on the divorce and all related matters. The agreements are recorded in a divorce covenant. If minor children are involved, a parenting plan must also be drawn up. The divorce covenant and parenting plan are submitted to the court with the request. If everything is in order, no hearing must occur, and the judge issues a decree. This procedure is usually faster than a unilateral request and takes an average of two months, also depending on how busy the court is.

Unilateral petition for divorce

The proceedings usually take longer with a unilateral petition for divorce. This is because parties often cannot agree on the arrangements regarding the children or the division of the marital assets. Moreover, with a unilateral request, there will also always be a court hearing. The duration of these proceedings varies on average between 6 and 12 months. In some cases, it can even reach 18 months or longer. Also, the speed depends on how quickly both parties provide the necessary documents.

Reaction from the other party:

In a unilateral application, the opposing party has six weeks to file a defense with the court. This can be extended once by six weeks. The speed of this phase may vary depending on the cooperation of your (ex) partner.

Our lawyers will guide you through this process and ensure that communication with your (former) partner is as smooth as possible. This helps minimize potential delays and conflicts.

Court hearing and ruling:

After all the necessary documents have been submitted, the case can be taken to court. Depending on how busy the courts are, a court hearing can sometimes take months.

Effective date of separation:

After the court ruling, the divorce must still be registered in the civil registry. After registration, the divorce is official. This administrative process can only normally occur once the 3-month appeal period expires. If the parties agree on the registration of the divorce, our lawyers can draw up a deed of resignation to be signed by both parties. In that case, the parties do not have to wait three months before the divorce can be registered. If a party does not cooperate in signing a deed of resignation, the divorce can be registered after three months using a deed non-appeal, which is applied for at the court.


A simple joint divorce can be completed within two months, while more complex (unilateral) divorces can take longer.

At Law & More, we understand that every divorce is unique and will be a challenging time. Our team of experienced family law attorneys is ready to guide you through every step of the process so that you can achieve the best possible outcome.

Why choose Law & More?

Experience and expertise: our lawyers specialize in family law and have years of experience in divorce cases.

Personal attention: Every divorce is unique, so keep your best interests at heart.

Efficiency and speed: we aim to handle your divorce as efficiently and quickly as possible without compromising quality.

At Law & More, we understand how complex and difficult a divorce process can be. We offer expert legal advice and personal, committed support to guide you through every stage. Do you have any questions or would like immediate advice? If so, please get in touch with us.

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