News reports have been released every now and then about married celebrities who were granted a divorce in just a matter of seconds. One example is the case of Cheryl Cole who, in 2016, was granted divorce from her French businessman husband in just fourteen seconds. Thus, the term “quickie divorce” once again began circulating in newspapers and social media. This has led many people to believe, especially married couples who are contemplating about filing for a divorce, that they can be granted a divorce quickly.
The truth in ‘quickie divorce’
Legal experts at Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors say that bad divorces can last at least twelve months while good divorces can be completed in less time. However, it is easier to achieve a bad divorce rather than a good one. Divorces can get ugly most of the time, causing financial and emotional stress to both parties.
In England or Wales, couples can only apply for a divorce when they have been married for at least a year and their relationship has permanently broken down. A divorce can be granted if one of the five conditions is established:
- Unreasonable Behavior
- Separation after two years, provided that the other party agrees in writing
- Separation after five years even if the other party disagrees
A couple has other options to end their marriage if they don’t want to wait for a year. Other than divorce, couples can apply for legal separation if they want to live apart without getting a divorce. They can also file for annulment. However, if they file years after the marriage, they may have to explain the delay.
Once divorce is filed by one of the parties or the ‘Petitioner’, the petition is sent to Court. Two to three weeks after its receipt, the Court will issue the petition to the other party, or ‘Respondent’ for acknowledgement. However, if the Respondent does not defend the petition, the Petitioner can apply for ‘Decree Nisi’. A Decree Nisi is only a provisional decree that the Court executes, pronouncing that it is satisfied that the person has met the legal requirements of a divorce. The Petitioner will have to wait for at least six weeks before filing a ‘Decree Absolute’, which is the legal document that ends the marriage. The Decree Absolute usually takes two to three weeks to approve.
Taking the above timeline into consideration, divorce proceedings can usually take four to six months to complete, provided that there is no delay from either party. This debunks the idea of a ‘quickie divorce’. Tabloids may have exaggerated reports, claiming that celebrities were granted a ‘quickie divorce’ when the truth is, they have only been granted a Decree Nisi.
There is no exact timeline that will describe how short or long a divorce can be completed. Couples may only experience a less emotionally stressful and financially draining process when the divorce is uncontested and both parties readily agree in terms of division of assets, mortgages and debts allocation and child custody.