The newspapers often talk about celebrities obtaining a Quickie Divorce. The Brangelina divorce may well be this, but that divorce is in America which has an entirely different legal jurisdiction. The parties there simply have to cite “irreconcilable differences”.
Here in England the law has been settled since 1973 when the Matrimonial Causes Act came into force. There are 5 facts that can be relied upon when issuing divorce proceedings. There is only one ground for divorce which is Irretrievable Breakdown of the marriage. However, one of the 5 facts have to be relied upon as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown.
Three of these facts rely upon having lived apart for a period of at least 2 years: desertion of 2 years; separation of 2 years with consent of the other spouse or separation for 5 years. These facts are relied upon fairly regularly but not as often as facts that are available within that two-year period.
The remaining 2 facts are “fault” based relying on the other spouse’s adultery or the other spouse’s behaviour. There are additional requirements as to the impact of the petitioner of this behaviour or adultery. This can be pursued at any time after the separation has become permanent, that is once it is clear that the breakdown is irretrievable.
There is no separate ground for divorce when the parties agree on a “quickie divorce”. There has been talk recently, and on many occasions in the past, whether there should be something similar to the American system where parties can cite irreconcilable differences and do not need to go into the detail and allow the divorce to proceed quickly. This would need a change in legislation. There appears to be no appetite in government to do so at the moment.
However, in reality apart from needing to provide the court with the details of the problems, the procedure is likely to take the same time. A divorce now can be concluded within 4 months if all parties are cooperative and the courts are timely with their orders and processing them. More usually the procedure would take around 6 months. However, solicitors will often advise parties not conclude the divorce until the finances are resolved, in order to protect them. Once started, a divorce under the “fault” based grounds is no quicker than divorce is started after a period of separation.