Is there such a thing as a quickie divorce?

There is no such thing as a “quickie divorce”, no matter how many times we hear the phrase in the media. Yes, some couples may divorce in a shorter period of time than others, but that can be for a myriad number of reasons and either way, the process remains pretty much the same, and there are no shortcuts. This does not mean your divorce cannot be completed properly, carefully, and providing you with the best possible outcome, but it does mean you should not have unreasonable expectations of it being “quick”.

It’s likely that the myth of the so-called quickie divorce arose from the the length of time it takes a judge to pronounce the Decree Nisi in open court: a place where journalists often sit and wait to hear the names of the divorcing celebrities read out so they can then write a story along the lines of how it only took 60 seconds for Mr and Mrs Famous Person to end their marriage. What rarely gets mentioned is that there is no need for either party to attend the Decree Nisi pronouncement hearing (unless they have not be able to reach an agreement on the divorce cost and want to make representations to the judge), nor that the Decree Nisi is not even the end of the process. A marriage is not dissolved until Decree Absolute is granted, and you can only apply for it six weeks and one day after the Decree Nisi. This period is fixed, except in the most exceptional of cases.

“There is no such thing as a quickie divorce.”

Amanda McAlister, managing partner

How long does the divorce process actually take?

This depends very much on the couple involved and the complexities – or otherwise – of their situation. No two divorces are the same, and although I have dealt with divorces cases taking around six months from start to finish, these were cases where both parties agreed on all the key issues, and there were no court delays.

More generally, I’d say most divorces take between eight and 18 months to go through.  In every divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership in England and Wales, one person needs to issue a petition at court based on irretrievable breakdown, which has to be evidenced by one of five different facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation, with consent, or five years separation without. Regardless of which fact is relied upon, the procedure is identical.  The respondent is then required to confirm formally to the court whether or not they contest the divorce or dissolution. Once the court has this acknowledgement, the petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi or Conditional Order, which is the court’s confirmation that the relationship is eligible for a divorce or dissolution. When this decree or order is pronounced by the court, there is then a six-week cooling off period, after which the application for the Decree Absolute, or Final Order, can be made. This is the point at which the marriage or civil partnership is finally dissolved.

What might delay my divorce going through?

What can delay the final decree – the Decree Absolute – is how long it takes both parties to reach agreement on financial arrangements, or the arrangements for their children. This is why the advice of an experienced family lawyer is imperative: each case is specific and particular to your own circumstances.

Even the proposed introduction of “no-fault divorce” is not necessarily going to mean the process will take less time, although it is to be hoped it will take much of the animosity out of many divorce cases.

Take heart: it is much better for you, and those close to you, to achieve a divorce outcome that allows you to go forward with your new life in positivity and contentment.  Fast is not always best.  If you have any queries on this please do get in touch and we will be pleased to help you.


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