Eastenders Tiffany Butcher signs divorce papers following her split from Keegan Baker

For those of us who enjoy soap operas (myself included), you will have recently witnessed Tiffany’s departure from Eastenders following her separation from her husband Keegan, earlier this week.

Fans were left reeling as Tiffany’s brother Liam, removed Tiffany’s letter to Keegan (professing her love for him) which accompanied her signed divorce papers asking him to meet her at the tube if he felt the same way.

However Keegan never received the love letter and instead he opened the envelope only to find the signed divorce papers. Tiffany then exited the square in the usual tear-jerking and dramatic fashion that we have come to expect from the long-running soap.

What the writers of Eastenders did not realise or perhaps chose to ignore, is that the process of divorce changed earlier this year. For those couples wishing to divorce now who instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf there is a mandatory system which must be used.

Legal representatives are required to use the Court portal to issue all divorce petitions which means respondents to divorce petitions receive notification of the petition by email and only now have to respond online. This is in contrast to the old system where parties received a physical copy of the divorce petition in the post and had to physically complete an acknowledgment of service.

What does this mean for divorces these days? Well, it means that generally speaking divorces are taking less time to complete. The average paper divorce (accordingly to government statistics) took 55 weeks from the date the petition was issued to Decree Absolute (the final decree of divorce) as opposed to 24 weeks when dealt with via the online platform.

It is however important to emphasise that whilst Tiffany made her dramatic departure from Eastenders she does still remain married to Keegan. In order to obtain a divorce there are a few more hurdles Keegan will need to go through in order to finalise his separation from Tiffany. This includes sending back Tiffany’s signed papers, applying for the first formal stage of divorce proceedings (the Decree Nisi) and applying for Decree Absolute.

The Court will then need to be satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by reference to what has been included on the divorce petition, in this case Tiffany’s unreasonable behaviour. Despite the move to a “no fault” divorce system which is due to come into effect next Spring we have seen the Court taking a tougher line on considering whether the examples of unreasonable behaviour meet the threshold to grant a divorce.

Viewers and readers should also be aware that a divorce in itself does not also sever your financial ties from your spouse and it is important to seek legal advice in relation to this.

Our team of family solicitors can talk you through your options if you are considering separating and/or divorcing.  Please contact Anna Patsalides, Solicitor on 01727 818525; anna.patsalides@taylorwalton.co.uk or Will Mercer, Partner on 01727 818509; william.mercer@taylorwalton.co.uk