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Does a ‘quickie divorce’ really exist?

The media has recently scrutinised the breakdown of Nigella Lawson's marriage, sparing us none of the juicy details. Last week they reported that she was granted a 'quickie divorce' - a phrase often used, by the media, in relation to celebrity divorces… but does it give a misleading impression of the divorce process? Does the 'quickie divorce' really exist?

Divorce does not have to be a long and drawn out process but the celebrity divorces, supposedly completed in a matter of weeks, do not reflect the timetable of an average divorce.

The important thing to note is that Nigella Lawson's divorce is not yet actually complete despite the headline 'EXCLUSIVE: Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi to divorce today'. A judge has only confirmed that Nigella is entitled to a divorce. The final divorce order (called the Decree Absolute) will not be made for a number of weeks yet.

If there are no financial matters to resolve or financial matters are already agreed then a divorce can be obtained in 3-4 months together with a final financial order if appropriate. I have had a recent case in which divorce proceedings were concluded 14 weeks after they were issued with the Court. The parties had been separated for some time and had already agreed all of the details of their financial settlement. This was only possible with the full co-operation of both Husband and Wife and a complete agreement on financial issues.

An 'average' divorce, that proceeds smoothly and with minimum difficulty, will be completed in 6-7 months, but many take longer if negotiations regarding finances are strung out. You can divorce without resolving financial matters but your solicitor will advise you if it is sensible for you to delay the application for the final divorce order until a final financial order is in place to ensure that your financial claims are adequately protected.

The reason that Nigella Lawson has been able to proceed so smoothly through the first stage (confirmation of her entitlement to divorce - the Decree Nisi) is because, as one is led to believe by the media, the couple have agreed the financial terms already. This suggests that the process, for them, through to Decree Absolute, will be relatively swift. That said, we should still anticipate it taking several weeks - far from being 'quickie'.

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