Our senior partner, Jane Anderson, explains how we can help speed up the process of divorce.
My husband and I have decided to go our separate ways. It is very sad. We have really made an effort to make it work but despite counselling feel that it is best for us to part. We are still good friends though and would like to sort everything out as quickly as possible. What is a ‘quickie’ divorce, and can we get one?
I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties but am glad that you still remain on good terms.
First of all you must have been married for a year to apply for a divorce. Most divorces are straightforward but it does take months rather than weeks to complete a divorce, depending on which court you use and how quickly everyone deals with the paperwork.
If you plan to divorce before you have been separated for at least two years, then one of you must file a petition for divorce based on the other’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Nowadays most couples deal with the divorce paperwork in a sensible and sensitive way, looking to achieve a divorce without causing unnecessary upset to the other party. Your solicitor can advise you about the best way to achieve this.
The alternative is to wait until you have been separated for two years, and then go ahead with the agreement of the other party.
Haven’t there been changes in the law recently that mean that we can get divorced quicker?
A bill, which had its first reading in the House of Lords in January, has introduced a system of no-fault divorce. There is government support for the bill so there is a good chance that there will be positive changes soon. For the moment, though, we have to work with the law as it stands.
Is there anything else we can do to speed up the divorce process?
Speed-wise you are very much in the hands of the court, and there have been very bad delays in recent months. Here at Cozens-Hardy, we do have a couple of options we can suggest to smooth the process and to speed it up. It is possible to apply for a divorce online now and we can help you with that.
The main reason for us to get the divorce under way is to do with the finances. We have agreed what will happen to our joint finances and understand we need to get a court order to make sure that the agreement is legally binding. How do we do that?
You can apply to the court for an agreed order (called a ‘consent order’), but the court has the power to make most financial orders only when the decree nisi has been granted. This is the last but one step in the divorce process. This means that, unfortunately, you will have a wait before you can apply for an order. We can advise you about what you can do in the meantime.
Once we have the decree nisi how long will it take us to get the agreed court order?
It normally takes about three or four months for a court order to materialise. The good news is that Cozens-Hardy is a member of a financial court pilot scheme which means that agreed court orders can be submitted to the court online, cutting the time it takes to obtain an order down to about a fortnight. We find clients can otherwise be left in financial limbo for many, many weeks. The delays are out of everyone’s hands, causing additional stress at a sad and difficult time. As the divorce is often finalised only once the court order has been made, the new fast-track scheme means the divorce is completed sooner too.