Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Divorce is a game played slowly

Divorce, as we all know, can be an unpleasant business. It is not unnatural therefore that those going through it are impatient to get on with their new lives, particularly if they have met someone else. Unfortunately, it is often my duty to reign in such eagerness and to remind clients that "it ain't over 'til it's over". In particular, there are two common scenarios where I may have to disappoint:

1. The client wants to remarry and has fixed a wedding date. Sorry, but this will not normally be sufficient to persuade the court to expedite matters, and I cannot give any guarantee when the divorce will be completed, especially where the other party is the petitioner. Note also that most petitioners will want to wait until a financial/property settlement has been reached before finalising the divorce. Accordingly, don't arrange the wedding, and certainly don't book that expensive honeymoon, until you actually have the decree absolute in your possession.

2. A financial/property settlement has been agreed and the client is to receive a lump sum, which he needs to rehouse himself. He has found a new property to purchase, his offer has been accepted and he has arranged a mortgage. He needs his lump sum before the purchase falls through, or his mortgage offer expires. I have to explain to him that unless his ex agrees, there is nothing I can do to obtain payment of the lump sum until the settlement has been made into a court order, and the divorce has been finalised. Regrettably, this can take considerable time, particularly at some county courts where the wheels of justice move with the speed of an arthritic snail. So, the advice has to be: don't commit yourself until you have the readies in your greasy little mits.


  1. More haste, less speed as they say, but in some circumstances going too slowly is less tortoise and hare and more slow and painful torture, especially where children are involved.

    If we had a lovely, fine-tuned system that was fluid and sophisticated, we could up tempo, down-tempo and just generally tamper with tempo where necessary!

  2. I think Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be required reading for all our impatient clients:

  3. Hi James,

    Oh yes, and not only clients. As I have said before it should also be required reading for all lawyers.


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