Why there is no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce

Wed 1st Feb 2017

Updated January 2019.

Elise Alma, Partner and Head of the Family team at Coodes Solicitors comments on the myth of a ‘quickie’ divorce and why there is no such thing.

We are familiar with headlines in celebrity gossip columns reading, “Star granted quickie divorce from spouse”. Indeed, earlier this year Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (of Girls Aloud and X-Factor fame) and her husband Jean-Bernard, were said to have been granted the UK’s speediest divorce in a mere 14 seconds.

These headlines suggest that your marriage can be bought to an end in a matter of moments, but is that really the case? In fact, these headlines are very misleading indeed and perpetuate the myth of the ‘quickie’ divorce.

The divorce process will usually take at least four months. It starts with one party (known as ‘the Petitioner’) sending their divorce petition to the court. As a matter of courtesy and in order to maintain good relations, it is almost always wise for the other spouse to have sight of a copy of the divorce petition before it is sent to the court to avoid any nasty surprises. Once the petition has been sent to the court it will be given a case number and copies will be sent to the other party. Generally speaking it takes two to three weeks for the court to issue the divorce papers and send them out.

When they receive the papers, the other spouse must fill in a form called an ‘Acknowledgement of service’ within 14 days, indicating whether or not they are happy for the divorce to proceed. If they agree to the divorce going ahead, the form will be returned to the court and a copy sent to the other spouse, which can take a good two to three weeks.

If both parties are then happy to proceed the Petitioner may apply for a ‘Decree Nisi’. This is a document which states that the court agrees that the marriage can be bought to an end on a certain date, unless the court is given a good reason to refuse to grant the divorce

The application for a Decree Nisi is placed before a Judge who must be content with the divorce going ahead. It can sometimes take a number of weeks to be given a date for the Decree Nisi hearing. Neither party needs to attend this hearing unless there is an issue with the cost of the divorce proceedings. The hearing usually only take a matter of seconds as long as all the paperwork is in order. This is where the myth of the ‘quickie’ divorce arises. In fact the divorce will not be complete for a number of weeks following this hearing.

Once the Decree Nisi is granted the parties must wait six weeks and one day until the Decree Absolute can be granted. Prior to the Decree Absolute being granted you are still married to your spouse and must not attempt to remarry a new partner.

It is entirely incorrect to suggest that a marriage can be bought to an end in seconds but many people are often surprised by how long the process takes. While a time estimate of four to six months is reasonable for most straightforward divorces it can take an awful lot longer if, for example, one party decides not to cooperate or there are complicated financial issues to resolve.

Often you will hear people exclaim “my divorce took years to sort out!”. In fact, it is generally the financial issues that hold things up. Regardless of this, there is simply no such thing as a ‘quickie’ divorce with all couples having to follow the correct legal procedures.

For more information or advice on divorce or any Family matters, visit our Divorce and Separation pages or contact Elise Alma in the Family Team at Coodes Solicitors on 01566 770000 or elise.alma@coodes.co.uk.

Wed 1st Feb 2017

Elise Alma


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