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Divorce in 25 Seconds?

Can this really be possible? The short answer is no.

Following months of tabloid tales, Louise and Jamie Redknapp’s divorce is final. It concluded, so the media reports, in the Central Family Court in London on 29th December 2017 in a 25 second hearing by a judge who said she could not “reasonably be expected” to live with him.

But. It is not all over yet. This article explores the steps taken in a divorce and will reveal what actually happens in that 25 second hearing.

All divorce proceedings are started with a Divorce Petition. That Petition sets out the reason why the Petitioner (the person completing the form) feels the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The Petitioner will have to cite either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years’ separation with consent, 5 years’ separation or desertion.

Once the Petitioner is ready to issue divorce proceedings, the Divorce Petition is sent to the Court. The Court will issue the Divorce Petition and send it to the other party or his/her Solicitors.

An Acknowledgement of Service will accompany the Petition. This should be completed by the Respondent (the person receiving the Petition) and returned to the Court within seven days. Once that Acknowledgement of Service has been sealed (stamped) by the Court, the Court will then send the form to the Petitioner or his/her solicitors. Once received, the Petitioner must complete a Statement in Support of the Divorce Petition. This is a document confirming that everything the Petitioner has stated in the Divorce Petition is true and that the Petitioner still wishes to go ahead with the divorce. This document is then sent to the court and accompanies the Application for Decree Nisi.

The Court will set a date for pronouncement of Decree Nisi. Neither the Petitioner or the Respondent is expected to attend. This is the 25 second hearing. In most County Courts this hearing happens on a particular day of the week and deals with many cases simultaneously. The Judge will state aloud that he/she pronounces the Decree Nisi in the cases of, for example, Jones and Jones, Smith and Smith and Wilson and Wilson.

Decree Nisi simply means that the court is satisfied that the contents of the Divorce Petition have been proven. “Nisi” is the Latin name for “if” which emphasises the provisional nature of this Decree.

Six weeks and one day after Decree Nisi is pronounced, the Petitioner will be able to apply for Decree Absolute. It is this Decree that is the final decree of divorce. The parties are not divorced until Decree Absolute has been pronounced.

This six week, statutory, delay provides the parties with a little breathing room to finalise financial settlement arrangements and, indeed, decide if they really do want the marriage to end.

Until that Decree of Absolute is pronounced, Jamie and Louise remain married.

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