The media is full of incorrect information about divorce and the public is seriously misled about the realities of the divorce process. This article seeks to bust some of those myths and make sure you’re armed with the correct information and avoid the media hype.
Myth 1: Divorce takes a matter of seconds for celebrities
We all know the old stories: “Sports star and model wife get ‘quickie’ divorce”, “famous actress and her husband get divorce in 40 seconds at London’s High Court”. Why do these stars get these super-fast divorces and how can us mere mortals get them too? The simple truth is that they don’t exist. The stars have to abide by the same marriage and divorce formalities as the rest of us. The ’40 seconds’ quoted in countless tabloid articles actually refers to the pronouncement of Decree Nisi. This is done by a District Judge and he or she will read out the names of dozens of couples and pronounce that their applications for Decree Nisi are accepted. But they’re not divorce! Far from it – the Decree Nisi is the penultimate stage in the divorce process but most of the couples will attempt to agree finances before moving to the final stage, Decree Absolute, and this can take many, many moths. Those who aren’t dealing with finances won’t be able to proceed to Decree Absolute for another six weeks and one day (a ‘cooling off’ period and a relic of past divorce law). So don’t believe the newspaper hype – no one is getting divorced in 40 seconds!
Myth 2: Ok, so if they’re not getting divorced in 40 seconds then what about all these quickie divorces?
We’d all like to get things over and done with quickly and move on with our lives. Well the quickie is another newspaper fabrication. With the exception of life of death situations every divorce goes through the same process and, notwithstanding any delays for finances to be settled, should take the exact same amount of time as any other divorce filed on the same day at the same court – celebrity couple or not. What really affects how long a divorce takes is the court’s workload and the issues involved in the divorce. Winter and summer are notoriously slow-going for courts due to spikes in the number of divorces they process and staffing levels. Those in the public eye are also more likely to have a pre-nuptial agreement and a plan in place for settling finances out of court and can therefore avoid any delays caused by finance proceedings. And who can blame them? Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and his All Saints wife Nicole Appleton have recently been in the news for the £800k legal bill they ran up sorting out their finances in court. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/dec/18/liam-gallagher-nicole-appleton-divorce-case-legal-bill
Myth 3: We can’t get a divorce until the plans for the children are sorted out
Not true! As of April 2014, the procedures relating to divorce and child arrangements have been completely separated. Form D8, the divorce petition, does ask about children of the family – their names and ages – but this is for the purpose of gathering statistics and does not have any impact on the divorce. If you need the court’s help in relation to child arrangements – that is, where the children live and with whom they spend time – you need to make a separate application under the Children Act 1989 and this can be done at any time before, during or after the divorce.
Myth 4: We both agree on splitting up so we’ll just get an annulment instead
You probably won’t. There are very specific circumstances in which an annulment is appropriate. Annulment is very rare and if you think it might apply to you, seek professional legal advice. If you apply for an annulment and get it wrong you may have to reapply for a divorce – and this means two sets of fees. Take a look at our annulments page to find out more: http://www.grayfords.co.uk/annulment/
Myth 5: If we’re in agreement and everything is amicable surely we can just use one solicitor and save some money
Sadly this is not the case. More and more couples are ‘happily divorce’, that is, they know the marriage is over and they want to work together to end it as quickly and painlessly as possible. Even where there is no dispute between the couple, a solicitor cannot act for both of them in case there is a dispute further down the line. Even if you know there will be no dispute, it is out of the solicitor’s hands – our professional rules say we just can’t represent both parties in a divorce.This doesn’t mean two sets of solicitors’ bills though. There is no obligation for both of you to have a solicitor and we frequently write directly to our client’s spouses where they represent themselves and are known as ‘Litigants in Person’. Do beware though, if things start to get complicated or acrimonious, the Litigant in Person may be better to take on their own solicitor.
We hope this article has been helpful and has cleared up some of the most common misconceptions around divorce for you. If there are any other aspects of divorce you’d to know more about then let us know in the comments? Any more myths you’d like us to bust – let us know or call us on 0800 222 9500.