Ian Butterworth
Partner & Solicitor
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Date Published:24 Oct 2016 Last Updated:02 Aug 2021

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini – The Quickest of “Quickie” Divorces?

Family Law

It has been widely reported in the press today that Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cheryl Cole) has secured Britain’s fastest divorce in a record time of 14 seconds. The reality, however, these headlines have been greatly exaggerated. There is no such thing as a “quickie” divorce in England and Wales.

The truth of the various reports in press today is to be found in the small-print. The various articles all quote the following statement by Cheryl’s spokesman:-

“Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini have today obtained a decree Nisi in their divorce proceedings”.

Readers should be aware that the Decree Nisi is only the first of two decrees in the divorce process. It does not bring a marriage to an end. It merely confirms that the parties are entitled to a divorce. In this case, Cheryl has satisfied the Court that Jean-Bernard’s was sufficiently unreasonable to warrant a divorce.

Cheryl’s divorce will only be complete when the Court pronounces the Decree Absolute and, in the absence of any exceptional circumstances, the earliest that she will be able to apply for this is 6 weeks and one-day after the date of the Decree Nisi. The marriage is therefore unlikely to dissolved until 2 December 2016.

It has previously been reported that Cheryl’s lawyers lodged divorce papers on her behalf in January 2016. Instead of being a 14 second “quickie” divorce, the reality is that the whole process is likely to have taken a year by the time the Decree Absolute is pronounced. This is far from uncommon. The smoothest of divorces now takes around 6 months to complete.

Although the 6 week and one-day period between the Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute can be shortened, the Court will only be persuaded to do this in exceptional circumstances. Examples include impending death, the imminent birth of a child or perhaps travel abroad). Applications to expedite the 6 week and one-day period are usually made at the Decree Nisi hearing. It is currently unclear as to whether such an application was made on Cheryl’s behalf or, indeed, whether this was successful.

Should you require any advice or assistance with commencing divorce proceedings or resolving the financial aspects of your separation, please do not hesitate to contact Ian through this firm’s family department on 01202 636223.