"Quickie divorces have arrived in the UK". So begins an article in the TimesOnline yesterday, suggesting that there has been some change in the law or procedure to speed up the divorce process (although it does go on to say that the process "takes only 16 weeks"). There has been no such change.
The phrase 'quickie divorce' is one that I come across frequently. I often have to disappoint clients by telling them that (in English law at least) there is no such thing, save in exceptional circumstances. Even if the divorce is undefended and everything is agreed at the outset, there is no fixed time frame for the whole procedure, which depends upon how quickly the court can deal with it and includes a six week period between decree nisi and decree absolute (save, as I've said, in exceptional circumstances). Yes, it can be done in sixteen weeks but that is unusual, at least in my local courts.
The term 'quickie divorce' may have originated in the 1970s, when divorce procedure was made quicker. However, the perception seems to be that, at least where matters are agreed, or possibly after two years' separation, there is some different procedure that is quicker than the 'normal' procedure - there is not. The important things are that the divorce is undefended and that proper arrangements have been made for any children (both of which should ideally be dealt with before the proceedings are issued). If so, the divorce will normally be as quick as possible, although even then it may be advisable to delay applying for the decree absolute until financial/property matters have been resolved.
The article referred to above is actually about cheap online divorce services, despite its title "Quickie divorce: it worked for me". I don't want to comment upon any particular such service, but I would say that, as with all things, you get what you pay for. I'm sure it can work for those few cases that really are completely straightforward, but as with cut-price conveyancing, for a small fixed fee you cannot get a personal service that will deal with all of the unforeseen issues and queries that may arise. The other suggestion in the article is that you could go abroad for a very quick divorce. This is extremely dangerous advice, as you may find that such a divorce will not be recognised in this country.