Family Lawyer Says Mediation And Communication Key To Speedier Proceedings
By Dave Grimshaw
A leading family lawyer says communication and mediation are the key for any separated couple wanting to achieve a so-called ‘quickie divorce’, similar to that of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi last week.
The celebrity chef and wealthy art collector hit the headlines after being granted a divorce just weeks after announcing their split, with the court hearing lasting less than two minutes.
Alison Hawes, a specialist divorce lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, says that the ‘quickie divorce’ is a myth and that in fact the first stage of all divorces – the decree nisi – could theoretically be achieved in two or three weeks.
Alison said: "The decree nisi is the first legal stage of a divorce and it can be achieved very quickly if people co-operate and agree they want to move quickly.
"Every couple is different when it comes to how they want to handle their divorce and specialist lawyers will help people through the process, which can be complicated. Some people can’t communicate with their former spouse at the start of divorce proceedings, because they are either too angry or upset.
"Others are happy to have a discussion and just need lawyers to help rubber stamp their agreements and may have pre-nuptial agreements in place to govern how they should divide their assets.
"What slows down the process of divorce itself is agreeing the financial matters arising from a divorce or arrangements for care of any children who are involved which is the complex part for some families."
Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi were granted a decree nisi after a 70-second hearing at the high court in London on Wednesday 31 July.
After the decree nisi, there is a legal waiting period of six weeks and one day before the final decree absolute, which marks the end of the marriage. Alison says it is at this time when the issues sometimes become difficult and it takes longer for parties to agree with each other.
Alison added: "Usually, the decree absolute is not applied for until all financial issues are resolved between the two parties. But during the decree nisi period, you are technically still married. The key difference is that once you have the decree nisi, if you cannot agree a financial settlement, the court can hear the arguments and make a binding decision.
"The key to this being a less stressful experience and speeding up the process is to not use it as a revenge mission against your former partner. At Irwin Mitchell, we have specially trained collaborative lawyers or mediators in all of our offices to help people who wish to divorce amicably and cost effectively."
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Divorce and Family law.