The popular press love to coin the phrase “quickie divorce” when reporting the divorces of celebrities. Myleene Klass received a “quickie divorce”. Cheryl’s marriage to Jean Fernandez-Versini was “over in just 14 seconds”.
Just like that other frequently misquoted myth of “common law marriage” – a quickie divorce is a myth and does not exist. All divorces in England and Wales will follow the same procedure, there is no shortcut no matter who is getting divorced.
The speed with which a divorce can happen from lodging a divorce petition to decree absolute is dependent on:
- How quick at responding and co-operative the other party is.
- How quick the Court is to process each stage.
The probable reason that the press pick up on celebrity divorces and call them quick is because the courts publish daily a list of names on which a judge pronounces, in open court, decree nisi.
The procedure is in fact as follows for all divorces:
After a petition is lodged, which is private, it is issued and sent to the respondent.
The respondent on the receiving end will need to acknowledge service (they are given 14 days to do this).
Then the court processes the acknowledgment and sends it to the petitioner.
The petitioner then can apply for decree nisi.
Decree nisi is the first stage of the divorce and once the Court has approved the petition and the application for decree nisi the Court will set a date for decree nisi. This is a pronouncement in open Court by a Judge. The press look at the daily decree nisi lists and when there is listed the pronouncement of a “celebrity” name, that is what they then report as being a quickie divorce. Usually the decree nisi Judge of the day has a number of decree nisi pronouncements to make so alongside Klass v Quinn and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini are all other listings for all us everyday folk: Smith v Smith, Jones v Jones, Bloggs v Bloggs etc.
After decree nisi there is a statutory period of six weeks and one day before the petitioner can apply for decree absolute which is the final decree that actually dissolves the marriage.
Most divorces are held up at decree nisi stage as it takes longer to resolve the division of finances between divorcing couples.
Whilst there is much debate at the moment on whether divorces should be fault-free i.e. not having to rely on a ground of for example unreasonable behaviour or adultery, there is no talk about shortening the divorce process to a matter of seconds – that is simply an erroneous assumption and misrepresentation, on the part of the press.