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Divorce law blog

What do Nigella Lawson, Gary Linekar, Katie Price and David Walliams all have in common?

20/09/2016   By: Tim Whitney

The answer is that they have all been reported in the press as having had a “quickie divorce” in under 60 seconds. The latest celebrity to join this list is, former world heavyweight champion boxer, David Haye.

In David Haye’s divorce it was reported that the District Judge “granted a decree nisi at a 30-second hearing in the Central Family Court in London”. The accompanying headline “Boxer David Haye's marriage ends in divorce during 30-second hearing” fails to recognise the two different stages within the divorce process, the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute.

The granting of a Decree Nisi simply confirms that the person seeking the divorce has sufficiently proved to the Court that they are entitled to one. It does not end the marriage. The marriage will not be dissolved until Decree Absolute is pronounced. The earliest this application can be made is 6 weeks after the date for Decree Nisi.

The reality is that “quickie divorces” do not exist and are a construct of the media. The divorce process in England and Wales is the same for everyone regardless of your celebrity status.

The complete Divorce Procedure is set out in a clear flowchart on our website.

The whole process from Divorce Petition to Decree Absolute could be completed in approximately 3 months providing the Court and both people involved act promptly. This would be a real “quickie divorce”. However the current delays at many of the Divorce Centres will add a further 6 weeks to this timescale.

Below are three steps to help you obtain the “quickest possible divorce”:

1. Agree the contents of the Divorce Petition with your spouse before it is sent to Court
If your spouse does not agree the contents of the Divorce Petition then this will increase the delay and cost of the divorce. It is far easier to amend a divorce petition before it is sent to Court. This is especially true of Divorce Petitions based on unreasonable behaviour.

2. Take advice from solicitors on the contents and format of the Divorce Petition and subsequent applications
The Court offer very little flexibility when dealing with Divorce Petitions. If details are missing or a tick is placed in the wrong box then you will likely have your Divorce Petition returned. Asking a specialist family lawyer to check your agreed Divorce Petition and subsequent documentation before it is sent to Court will avoid these potential delays.

3. Deal with all paperwork from the Court promptly and keep copies of everything
As many of the Divorce Centres across England and Wales are experiencing delays of up to six weeks it is important that you deal with all of your paperwork as quickly as possible to avoid a further level of delay. It is also wise to retain copies of everything you send to the Court in case of any problems or any of your papers go missing.

The Bury St Edmunds Divorce Centre, which deals with all Divorce Petitions for London and the South East, provides regular updates on their work position. Send a blank email to BuryStEdmundsInformation@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.

Tim Whitney
Senior Associate and Family Mediator

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