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Insights // 13 April 2016

Is the Celebrity ‘Quickie’ Divorce a Myth?

Solicitor Gemma Kemp, in our leading Family law team, explains that divorce is divorce, whether you are a celebrity or not.

It has been reported in the press today that celebrity couple Billie Piper and Laurence Fox have been awarded a ‘quickie divorce’ in the Central Family Court, citing that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  It is often the case that celebrity divorces are reported as being ‘quickie’ divorces; so what makes a celebrity divorce any different from all other divorces in England and Wales?  In short, the answer is….nothing. 

All divorces are based on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The parties (celebrity or otherwise) will need to rely on one of the five available facts to evidence the breakdown. The facts include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, separation for a period exceeding two years, and desertion.  It is reported that Piper cited Fox’s unreasonable behaviour in their divorce. 

The press article which details Piper and Fox’s apparent divorce goes on to say that neither party attended the court hearing, which lasted 50 seconds. At the end of the hearing, it is reported that the Judge granted the decree nisi.  This is the same process that most divorcing couples will go through where the divorce is not opposed by either person.  The pronouncement of the decree nisi is a formality, which does not usually require either party to attend court.

The press article would have you believe that Fox and Piper are now divorced, however this is not the case.  There are two stages to the divorce process; the first stage is the decree nisi (which is an indication from the court that the grounds for the divorce have been established) and the second stage is the decree absolute (which terminates the marriage).  As is the case with most divorces in England and Wales, Piper and Fox will now have to wait a further six weeks before the decree absolute can be pronounced and the divorce concluded.

It is not clear from the press articles whether Piper and Fox have reached an agreement in respect of financial matters and/or arrangements for their two children.  These are matters which should be considered alongside the divorce itself.  It is often advisable not to finalise the divorce until financial matters have been resolved, and it may therefore be that Piper and Fox’s divorce is delayed until a financial agreement has been reached. 

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Gemma Kemp

Gemma Kemp

Associate Solicitor, Family Law

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