Can I get a ‘quick’ divorce?

Recently, tabloids have asserted celebrities have obtained divorces in six seconds, while TV documentaries have suggested those with marriages breaking down should book into a divorce hotel to sort out their divorce in 48 hours. Is this too good to be true? Is there such a thing as a ‘quick’ divorce?

Can you really get a divorce in six seconds? The reality is different: the process takes approximately four months. ‘Six seconds’ is the time the media reports that it takes a Judge to say in a divorce case “I pronounce Decree Nisi in the case of Mr and Mrs Smith”. Decree Nisi is the first certificate issued in divorce but it will have taken the couple approximately two months to get even to this stage in the process. 

Can you book into a divorce hotel and sort it all out in 48 hours? You could manage to reach agreements with one another about children, money and divorce within 48 hours and sign all the paperwork, but this does not mean that you are actually divorced and no Court Orders will have been made. The process is still likely to take a minimum of four months through the Court whether or not you are agreed.

So what can you do to make the process as quick, cheap and painless as possible?

Many people seek legal advice about divorce in a state of high anxiety and distress. Obtain some initial legal advice by way of reassurance but give yourself some time to adjust to your situation emotionally before addressing longer term decisions about housing and children.

Pay for good legal advice to obtain an impartial view about what is “fair”.  You may feel you are being fair and reasonable, but will a Judge agree with you? A “good” solicitor is one who has kitemarks confirming that they have passed specialist exams in family law e.g. accredited by Resolution and/or The Law Society in Family Law.  A “good” firm is one that has a kitemark of Lexcel: The Law Society assessors regularly inspect their practices and procedures to make sure that they are consistently good.

Consider out of Court settlement procedures such as family mediation. Ask your solicitor to recommend a mediator suitable for your case.

If you can’t reach agreement and instruct your solicitor to make Court applications, make sure you are prepared for the process. Research what going to Court is actually like – The Ministry of Justice has short videos on YouTube. Cases often involve a series of Court hearings. The Court expects your solicitor to present your case in a way that complies with rules and practice directions and can be penalised financially by the Court for wasted costs. This means that once Court proceedings are issued, legal costs can increase dramatically within a short space of time to a level that is unaffordable to pay from income.

If you are short of money, consider instructing a firm of solicitors who can offer payment options such as payment at the end of your case funded by a litigation loan, payment by instalments, fixed fees or capped fees, or a firm who is willing to just represent you at specific hearings or prepare specific Court documents as instructed by you.

If you’d like to discuss divorce, separation or civil partnership dissolution with a member of our Family Law team, please call 0113 201 4900 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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