When journalists report on the latest celebrity couple to be getting a ‘quickie divorce’ they are perpetuating a family law myth. There is no favourable treatment for anyone in English and Welsh family law and all couples, whether they are A-Listers or average Joes, will have to fulfil the same criteria and adhere to the prescribed time requirements in order to apply for and be granted a divorce.
One of the most misleading statements that a newspaper can make is, “X divorces Y after just three months of marriage”. This is just not possible as all couples (unless the marriage is to be annulled) must wait 12 months from the date of the wedding ceremony before they can apply to the family court for a divorce. The headline should read, “X divorces Y after three months of marriage and nine months of separation”, but this doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Of course, there are some divorces reported upon in the press which have their origins in the adultery of one party, but, in many cases, the report says something along the lines of X and Y have decided to end their marriage because of irreconcilable differences or perhaps because it has broken down irretrievably
In fact, under section 1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only ground for divorce in English and Welsh family law and when at least one party to the marriage has decided they want to formally dissolve the relationship they must prove the breakdown to the court under one of five facts.
The petitioner (person applying for the divorce) must satisfy the court that:
When the papers pronounce that a celebrity is going to court “today” to get a divorce, in many cases, what they mean is that the family court will hear the petition and, unless there are circumstances which prevents it from doing so, such as a defended claim – for example, the court is not satisfied that one of the five facts has been fulfilled – the judge will grant a decree nisi. This means that the divorce is one step closer, but there is still a period of time in which the respondent can go back to the court to contest the divorce. In most instances, the court will not require the parties’ attendance at the initial hearing.
The divorce is only official once the decree absolute has been applied for and granted by the family court. Before that time, parties to the marriage are not free to remarry as their former marriage has not been legally dissolved.
To speak to a divorce solicitor in Chichester about your divorce, or any family law matter, why not call George Ide today.
Our team has many years’ experience and can advise you on the length of time the proceedings are likely to take as well as advising you on the best course of action to protect your interests in a divorce settlement.
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