News & Insights

Are quickie divorces the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous?

Media coverage continues to promote so-called “quickie divorces” amongst celebrities, but is there such a thing?

Many of you will have seen references to quickie divorces in the media over the years, most recently in relation to the divorce of Louise and Jamie Redknapp who were supposedly granted a divorce in a matter of seconds. A quick google of ‘quickie divorce’ and you’ll find endless results for online companies trying to offer punters just that; but what are they really able to offer?

To put it simply, there is no such thing as a “quickie divorce”. Celebrity status and/or vast wealth will not help you to secure a faster divorce than anybody else. The speed of a divorce is entirely dependent on the timeframe of the court process and it will take a minimum of months rather than weeks (let alone seconds!) from the date of the petition through to the pronouncement of your decree absolute of divorce.

When the media refer to a divorce taking place in a matter of seconds they are simply referring to the judge’s pronouncement of the parties’ decree nisi. This is the first of two divorce decrees and simply means that the judge is satisfied, on the face of the papers presented to him, that the couple are entitled to a divorce. Of course, prior to this pronouncement a petition has to be filed by one of the parties and issued by the court, and many people find this process in itself takes weeks owing to the current backlogs faced by the family courts.

The important thing to note is that parties are only divorced on receipt of their decree absolute, the second and final decree. Parties to every divorce have to wait for a defined minimum period of six weeks and one day following the pronouncement of their decree nisi before they can apply for the absolute. In reality, parties often wait a lot longer than this as it is advisable, particularly if you are the financially weaker party, to ensure that a full financial agreement is reached prior to applying for decree absolute. This is because divorce affects, amongst other things, a person’s rights to inheritance and pension assets owing to their marriage. Negotiations surrounding the financial matters, and of course arrangements for the care of any children, can take months or even years and so the idea of an instant divorce is far from the truth.

Although the Redknapps now know that they have surpassed the threshold for obtaining a decree of divorce, it is anticipated that it will be months before financial negotiations are concluded and so the reality of their acclaimed “quickie divorce” rapidly falls away.