When a ‘special procedure’ is not a special procedure
Late last month the press reported that it took 30 seconds for a judge sitting in the Central Family Court to grant a celebrity couple their decree nisi in relation to their divorce. The speed was because the celebrity’s wife’s application for decree nisi was able to be submitted on paper, the celebrity husband accepting that there should be a divorce.
The written application is known as the ‘special procedure’ and was introduced between 1973 and 1977 to allow undefended divorces to proceed more quickly. The irony is of course that the vast majority of cases are now dealt with under the special procedure and the old rules only apply to a very limited number of defended divorces before the courts each year.
Decree nisi is the confirmation by the judge that there are grounds for divorce. There then follows a cooling off period and unless a reconciliation occurs decree absolute follows six weeks and one day after decree nisi.
Nicola Furmston is a partner and head of the family department at Barker Gotelee Suffolk Solicitors.