The so-called ‘quickie’ divorce, seemingly given exclusively to celebrities, has been back in the news following the split of pop star Cheryl and her restaurateur husband of 18 months Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini. Tabloids reported they were divorced in just 14 seconds.
This ‘divorce granted in seconds’ story is one which is played out across the media on a regular basis when celebrities split up and no doubt clashes with public perception of a sometimes long, drawn-out process.
So, how do they manage it?
How do you get a ‘quickie’ divorce?
The truth is: you can’t. Neither can celebrities, despite what the media would have you believe.
The divorce process is essentially made up of three parts – the second of which can be extremely fast and is what the media are talking about when they discuss divorces being concluded in a matter of seconds.
What is the divorce process in the UK?
There are three parts to the divorce process: the divorce petition, decree nisi and decree absolute.
- Divorce petition – The divorce petition is the starting point in any divorce. It is prepared by one spouse (the petitioner) and served on the other. These forms are sent to the nearest regional divorce centre for issuing and sending to the other spouse, who must then formally acknowledge it.
- Decree nisi – Decree nisi is the only part of the divorce process the media is privy to, and is the reason they claim celebrities get extremely fast divorces. Decree nisi is confirmation that the couple is entitled to divorce and opens the gateway for the court to make orders regarding the financial aspects of divorce. Completed in open court, decree nisi simply involves the judge reading out the list of decree nisis for that day. Naturally, reading out your names only takes a few seconds per couple and is what the media reports on. Hence the ‘quickie divorce’ myth.
- Decree absolute – The decree absolute is the legal document which ends your marriage. Before applying for a decree absolute, you must wait six weeks from the date of the decree nisi. This break is designed to give you and your spouse a “cooling off” period. The period between decree nisi and decree absolute is often longer than six weeks given that most discussions regarding terms of financial settlement take place prior to the marriage being dissolved.
Naturally, there is no possibility of anyone bypassing this process by reason of celebrity. The same legal requirements apply to everyone, no matter how rich or famous.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
The national average for the divorce process is 33 weeks, and no matter how smoothly the process goes it will be measured in months rather than minutes.
Of course, the time taken to conclude your divorce will depend on several factors, including how long it takes for you to come to an agreement regarding your finances, property, children or any other pertinent issues.
Assuming these agreements are all in place and both parties wish to move the divorce through the process as quickly as possible you will still need to follow the full process. The truth behind the 14 second divorce is that it is simply a media myth.