Fancy a quickie divorce?

As soon as celebrities announce that they're splitting up, they're heading for divorce within a matter of weeks. No sooner have the tabloid headlines screamed Divorce! and it's done: a quickie divorce.

For the rich it's not a problem to get divorce lawyers involved so soon, but how easy is it for ordinary couples who are heading for divorce? Family lawyer Philippa Pearson discusses the trend for quickie divorces, and tells you how you can have a quickie divorce without breaking the bank.

It seems that whenever a celebrity divorce hits the headlines we're told that they have opted for a quickie divorce. The very notion sounds slightly distasteful; yet quickie divorces are the most popular divorces and have been since they first appeared in the early 70s. 

The idea behind the quickie divorce was to sweep away the old system of divorce, where couples often found themselves fighting each other to get a divorce they both wanted, and to allow them instead to dissolve their marriage in an unchallenged and less costly manner. A new star was born: the quickie divorce.

The quickie divorce is a purely paper-based procedure in which both parties consent to the facts on which the divorce petition is drafted and so neither have to attend divorce court. As a result, the divorce procedure usually takes only three to four months and the divorce costs are contained. 

Quickie divorces are also relatively easy for you to draft and deal with yourself, making them ideal if you don't wish to involve lawyers in your divorce. A quickie divorce can easily be a DIY divorce, making it not just quick but so much cheaper too!

The only downside for a couple who wish to use this divorce procedure to divorce amicably is that a quickie divorce must be based upon fault, with one of them alleging either adultery or unreasonable behaviour on the part of the other. 

If the couple don't wish to become involved in such unpleasantness, then they have to wait at least two years to divorce on the basis that they have been separated for this whole period. Not surprisingly, most couples can't face waiting a further two years before they sort everything out and many, even if they could put up with the wait, can't afford to. 

You can find out more about the Grounds For Divorce here.

Those who need public funding (or 'Legal Aid') to help them sort out their finances are forced by the regulations to issue divorce proceedings straight away, so they usually have to issue a quickie divorce.

But those who can afford to pay lawyers privately also find that, unless they can agree every aspect of their financial separation, they can't expect any help from the divorce court unless they have issued their divorce proceedings. 

It's perhaps not surprising that relatively few couples, including those who are largely in agreement with each other about their divorce, find themselves unable to take advantage of a divorce based on a two-year separation and have to opt for a quickie divorce instead.

Fortunately, many divorce lawyers operating in this field are members of Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors' Family Law Association), which encourages divorce solicitors to advise their clients not to issue quickie divorces without the couple first agreeing to the contents of the divorce petition. 

If you want to act for yourself, this avoids the possibility of your spouse only seeing your allegations against them for the first time when the divorce petition arrives in the post. If this happens, it can be a disastrous first step in any divorce as it can increase bad feeling and there's then a chance that you both won't be able to sort things out amicably.

Of course, sometimes it isn't appropriate to alert your spouse to the fact that you wish to issue a divorce petition against them, but such circumstances are rare and in the majority of cases there's no harm in doing so, particularly when it allows you both to become used to agreeing the circumstances in which you'll separate - something which will help you to keep your costs down and your distress to a minimum.


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Published on: November 2, 2009

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