Fast-Track vs. Standard Procedure: Exploring the Options for Obtaining a Decree Nisi

Fast-Track vs. Standard Procedure: Exploring the Options for Obtaining a Decree Nisi
March 10, 2022 Admin 1 Comments

In the United Kingdom, obtaining a decree nisi is an important step in the divorce process. It signifies that the court has recognised the grounds for divorce and is ready to proceed towards the final decree. However, individuals have the option to choose between the fast-track procedure and the standard procedure for obtaining a decree nisi. This article explores the options available and provides insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. By understanding the differences between the two procedures, individuals can make an informed decision that best suits their needs and circumstances.


Definition of decree nisi and its significance: A decree nisi is a legal term used in the United Kingdom to refer to a court order that states the date on which a marriage will end, unless a valid reason is provided to the court as to why the divorce should not be finalised. It is the first step in the divorce process and signifies that the court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, it does not officially end the marriage.

Explanation of the divorce process in the UK: The divorce process in the UK begins with one spouse, known as the petitioner, filing a divorce petition with the court. The petitioner must provide grounds for the divorce, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or separation for a specified period of time. The court will then issue the divorce petition to the other spouse, known as the respondent, who can either agree to the divorce or contest it. If the respondent agrees, they do not need to attend court and the divorce can proceed to the next stage. If the respondent contests the divorce, a court hearing may be required to determine whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Importance of obtaining a decree nisi: Obtaining a decree nisi is important as it marks a significant milestone in the divorce process. It allows both parties to move forward with their lives and make arrangements for the future, such as dividing assets and making child custody arrangements. It also provides a timeframe for the divorce to be finalised, as the decree nisi becomes absolute after a specified period of time, usually six weeks and one day. Once the decree nisi becomes absolute, the marriage is legally dissolved, and both parties are free to remarry if they wish.

Fast-Track Procedure

Overview of the fast-track procedure: The fast-track procedure is a streamlined process that allows for quicker resolution of certain legal matters. It is designed to expedite the handling of cases that meet specific criteria and require prompt action. This procedure is commonly used in situations where time is of the essence, such as urgent matters or cases with clear-cut facts and limited legal complexities. By opting for the fast-track procedure, parties can avoid the delays associated with traditional litigation and achieve a faster resolution to their legal dispute.

Eligibility criteria for the fast-track procedure: To be eligible for the fast-track procedure, certain criteria must be met. These criteria may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific type of case. Generally, cases that involve smaller claims or straightforward legal issues are more likely to qualify for the fast-track procedure. For example, in civil litigation, cases with a lower monetary value or cases that do not involve complex legal questions may be eligible. Additionally, both parties must agree to proceed with the fast-track procedure, as it requires their consent to bypass the regular litigation process.

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing the fast-track procedure: Choosing the fast-track procedure offers several advantages. Firstly, it saves time and reduces the overall duration of the legal process. This can be particularly beneficial in urgent matters where a quick resolution is essential. Secondly, the fast-track procedure often involves simplified procedures and fewer formalities, which can lead to cost savings for the parties involved. Additionally, the fast-track procedure may provide a more efficient and focused approach to resolving disputes, as it encourages parties to narrow down the issues and present their cases concisely. However, there are also disadvantages to consider. The fast-track procedure may limit the parties’ ability to fully explore and present their arguments and evidence, as there may be restrictions on the length of submissions or the number of witnesses. Furthermore, the expedited nature of the procedure may result in less time for negotiation or settlement discussions, potentially reducing the opportunities for parties to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome. It is important for parties to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages before deciding to proceed with the fast-track procedure.

Standard Procedure

Explanation of the standard procedure: Standard Procedure refers to a set of established steps or guidelines that are followed in a particular situation or process. In the context of obtaining a decree nisi, the standard procedure refers to the legal process involved in obtaining a preliminary decree of divorce.

Steps involved in obtaining a decree nisi through the standard procedure: The steps involved in obtaining a decree nisi through the standard procedure typically include filing a divorce petition, serving the petition to the other party, waiting for a response, applying for a decree nisi, attending a court hearing, and finally obtaining the decree nisi. These steps ensure that the legal requirements for divorce are met and that both parties have an opportunity to present their case.

Timeframe and potential delays in the standard procedure: The timeframe for the standard procedure can vary depending on various factors such as the complexity of the case, the workload of the court, and the cooperation of both parties. In general, it can take several months to a year or more to obtain a decree nisi through the standard procedure. Potential delays can occur if there are disputes or disagreements between the parties, if additional evidence or documentation is required, or if the court schedule is busy.

Comparison of Options

Pros and cons of the fast-track procedure: The fast-track procedure has the advantage of being quicker than the standard procedure. This means that decisions can be made and implemented more rapidly, which can be beneficial in situations where time is of the essence. However, the fast-track procedure may also have some drawbacks. For example, the expedited timeline may result in less thorough analysis and evaluation of options, potentially leading to suboptimal decisions. Additionally, the fast-track procedure may not allow for as much stakeholder input and engagement, which could impact the overall buy-in and support for the chosen option.

Pros and cons of the standard procedure: The standard procedure, on the other hand, typically involves a more comprehensive and rigorous process. This allows for a more thorough analysis of options, including the consideration of a wider range of factors and potential outcomes. The standard procedure also often includes more opportunities for stakeholder input and engagement, which can help ensure that decisions are well-informed and supported. However, the standard procedure may also be more time-consuming and resource-intensive. This could result in delays and increased costs, which may not be feasible or desirable in certain situations.

Factors to consider when choosing between the two options: When choosing between the fast-track and standard procedures, several factors should be considered. One important factor is the urgency of the decision. If time is critical, the fast-track procedure may be the preferred option. However, if the decision requires careful analysis and stakeholder input, the standard procedure may be more appropriate. Another factor to consider is the complexity of the decision. If the decision involves multiple variables and potential outcomes, the standard procedure may be better suited to ensure a thorough evaluation. Additionally, the level of stakeholder involvement and support needed should be taken into account. If stakeholder buy-in is crucial, the standard procedure may be more effective in achieving this. Overall, the choice between the fast-track and standard procedures should be based on a careful assessment of the specific circumstances and requirements of the decision at hand.

Factors Influencing Choice

Complexity of the divorce case: The complexity of the divorce case refers to the level of difficulty and intricacy involved in the legal proceedings. Factors that contribute to the complexity of a divorce case include the presence of high-value assets, disputes over child custody and support, allegations of domestic violence or abuse, and disagreements regarding the division of property and debts. A complex divorce case may require extensive legal research, expert testimony, and negotiations between the parties and their attorneys. The complexity of the case can influence the time and resources required to reach a resolution.

Desire for a quicker resolution: The desire for a quicker resolution is a factor that influences the choice in a divorce case. Some individuals may prioritise resolving their divorce as quickly as possible to minimise emotional stress, financial costs, and disruptions to their daily lives. They may opt for alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative divorce, which can expedite the process compared to traditional litigation. However, the desire for a quicker resolution should be balanced with the need to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for both parties involved.

Financial considerations: Financial considerations play a significant role in the choice of divorce proceedings. The cost of legal representation, court fees, and other expenses associated with divorce can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the chosen method of resolution. Individuals may consider their financial resources and the potential financial implications of different divorce options, such as the division of assets and debts, spousal support, and child support. They may also weigh the financial benefits of reaching a settlement agreement outside of court versus the potential costs of a lengthy litigation process. Financial considerations can influence the decision-making process and the overall outcome of the divorce case.

Legal Advice and Assistance

Importance of seeking legal advice: Seeking legal advice is of utmost importance in various legal matters, including divorce cases. Legal advice ensures that individuals understand their rights, obligations, and options in the legal process. It helps them make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of the legal system. Without proper legal advice, individuals may unknowingly waive their rights or make detrimental choices that can have long-term consequences. Therefore, seeking legal advice is crucial to protect one’s interests and ensure a fair and just resolution in divorce cases.

Role of solicitors in the divorce process: Solicitors play a significant role in the divorce process. They provide legal representation and guidance to individuals seeking a divorce. Solicitors assist in preparing and filing the necessary legal documents, such as divorce petitions and financial disclosure forms. They also negotiate on behalf of their clients to reach agreements on issues like child custody, spousal support, and property division. Solicitors are responsible for ensuring that their clients’ rights are protected and that the divorce process is conducted in accordance with the law. They provide legal advice, explain the legal implications of decisions, and advocate for their clients’ best interests throughout the divorce proceedings.

Availability of legal aid for divorce cases: Legal aid is a government-funded program that provides financial assistance to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. In the context of divorce cases, legal aid may be available to eligible individuals who meet certain criteria, such as low income or domestic violence victims. Legal aid can cover the costs of hiring a solicitor or provide free legal advice and assistance. However, the availability of legal aid for divorce cases varies depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case. It is important for individuals to inquire about the availability of legal aid and meet the eligibility requirements if they require financial assistance in their divorce proceedings.


In conclusion, when it comes to obtaining a decree nisi, individuals have the option of choosing between the fast-track procedure and the standard procedure. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on factors such as the complexity of the divorce case, the desire for a quicker resolution, and financial considerations. It is important to seek legal advice and assistance to make an informed decision. By understanding the options available and considering the relevant factors, individuals can navigate the divorce process more effectively and choose the most suitable procedure for their specific circumstances.

*Disclaimer: This website copy is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
For personalised legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances, book an initial consultation with our family law solicitors HERE.

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