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No such thing as a 'quickie divorce'

Date:27 OCT 2009

So-called 'quickie divorces' for high profile celebrities are little more than a myth which is misleading the 'man in the street', according to Nottingham family lawyer Angela Davis of Nottingham law firm, Berryman.

"It is often suggested that celebrities have obtained 'quickie divorces'," says Angela. "Most recently we have been told how Katie Price and Peter Andre's marriage and that of Adrian Chiles and his wife Jane Garvey have been brought to an end in record time - in the case of Adrian Chiles it is reported the court hearing lasted 83 seconds!

"There is however a common misconception that a quickie divorce exists; the reality is that there is no such thing.

"In every divorce in England and Wales, divorce is based on irretrievable breakdown, which has to be evidenced by one of five different facts - namely adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation coupled with consent or five years separation. However, regardless of which fact is relied upon the procedure is identical. Provided the divorce is undefended, that there are no unusual complications and everyone involved acts reasonably promptly throughout, divorce usually takes in the region of five to six months from start to finish. There can be regional variations across the country depending how busy particular courts are."

Despite claims in the media, Peter Andre and Katie Price have only just finalised their divorce, whilst Adrian Chiles and Jane Garvey are not yet divorced. Angela explains: "In both cases, the initial hearings mistakenly referred to as signalling the end of the marriages were in fact hearings to pronounce their 'Decree Nisi'. This is usually the only part of the divorce process which happens in open court - open to the media and members of the public generally.

"In practice such hearings are little more than a formality and usually involve a list of names being read out - the names of all the couples being granted Decree Nisi on the particular day. It is correct to say that such hearings are quick - they are usually over and done with in a matter of a few seconds. However, the Decree Nisi is only really the halfway stage in the divorce process and the marriage is not brought to an end until one of the parties applies to the court for Decree Absolute."

The party instigating the divorce proceedings has to wait until six weeks and one day have elapsed from the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi before they can apply for the Decree Absolute whilst the party on the receiving end of the divorce must wait a further three months from that stage before they can apply for the Decree Absolute.

"The six weeks and one day period is fixed," explains Angela. "Only in the most exceptional of cases can a separate application be made to reduce the six weeks and one day time period. Circumstances where the court might approve a reduction could include where one of the parties is anxious to remarry because a child is about to born and they want the child to be legitimate, or where one of the parties to marriage wants to remarry and he or she or their partner to be has a terminal illness.

"In all other cases the six weeks and one day waiting period is compulsory. In practice however even then it is often wise to deliberately postpone the application for Decree Absolute until such time as financial matters have been addressed."