News and Events

Quickie divorces -why only celebrities seem to have them?

In reality there is no such thing as a "quickie" divorce.  Divorce, for anyone, famous or not, is anything but quick - it takes months.

What the media mean by a quickie divorce is a divorce that starts straight away and one that will not be defended by the other person.

For a divorce to begin immediately, it must be based on the other person's adultery or their unreasonable behaviour. And while you can start divorce proceedings immediately, the whole process will still take a number of months before it is finalised.

It starts with one person - the petitioner - issuing a divorce petition at courts to be sent to their other half – known as the respondent. Specialist family solicitors, such as the Dawson Hart Family Team,  encourage a non-confrontational approach to divorce, which can speed up proceedings.

Such an approach will typically see the draft divorce petition pass between both parties enabling the details to be agreed before it goes to the courts.

If the petition can be agreed in advance, the chances are the divorce will proceed more smoothly and, dare I say it, quicker. If the contents come as a complete surprise to the other party, they may want to contest it. If they do the costs will escalate and it will take much longer.

Once the petition is filed with the courts, it will be sent to the respondent together with a further form to complete. It has been known for the courts to take up to a month just to issue the petition. The respondent should then return the form within 7 days indicating if he or she wants to defend the divorce.

In films and television programmes, you often see the husband or wife sign the divorce petition itself to show their agreement to the divorce. This does not happen in real life. It's another myth!

There is more paperwork to come, as once the respondent has returned the form to the court, it sends it back to the petitioner who is finally able to apply for Decree Nisi. This application is considered by a judge who will, if the divorce is not to be contested and all the documents are correct, set a date for Decree. The Decree Nisi is not a divorce, just the court's approval of it in principle.

Few people realise that, save for very exceptional circumstances, six weeks and a day must pass between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute. And it is only once the Decree Absolute has been issued that a couple are divorced.

The average amount of time, if everything proceeds smoothly and the couple are able to agree a financial settlement quickly, between a divorce petition being issued and Decree Absolute is 4 to 6 months - and that is as quick as it gets. A contested divorce or being unable to reach a financial settlement may see the divorce take years, rather than months.

For specialist divorce advice, contact Caroline Bourn or any member of our Family team