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Emergency Divorce Application

divorce application

Olsen twin application for emergency divorce rejected

It has been reported that Mary-Kate Olsen’s request for an “emergency divorce” from her husband of 5 years, Pierre Olivier Sarkozy, has been rejected by the court in New York

Reports state that Mary-Kate filed for divorce using the usual process in Manhattan but was told that they were not accepting petitions due to the coronavirus outbreak.  She therefore filed an emergency petition claiming she was being “forced out of her home”.  A judge decided that her divorce was not an “essential matter” and therefore it was rejected.   At present, it appears she cannot file anything to start proceedings and is in limbo.

Effect of coronavirus on courts

It is clear that coronavirus is having an effect in courts across the world and although some countries appear to be coping better it seems there will inevitably be delay.

In England and Wales, the courts are continuing to accept divorce petitions but they do appear to be being processed slower than you would ordinarily expect.

What if my case (in England and Wales) is urgent?

Where a petition needs to be dealt with urgently, for example, where there may be a race to claim jurisdiction, it is usually possible to ask the court to deal with matters more quickly and to “skip the queue”.  This is still possible notwithstanding the pandemic.

Can I issue urgently because I am being forced out of my home?

Issues in relation to the occupation of the family home would not ordinarily make a divorce petition urgent in England and Wales.  It is, however, true that without a divorce petition being filed you cannot generally ask the court to make financial orders.

The courts do, however, have the ability to make some emergency/protective orders depending on your situation and regardless of ongoing divorce proceedings.

Could coronavirus lead to jurisdiction shopping?

Sometimes parties may have the option of issuing proceedings in different jurisdictions, for example, because they live in one country but are nationals or domiciled in another.  Usually the jurisdiction which they choose is guided by the likely financial outcome in that country (as issues relating finances will generally be decided in the place where you divorce).  However, sometimes practical issues will also influence a decision, for example, location of the parties and assets, language spoken and so on.  It is possible that the ability of a particular jurisdiction’s courts to progress matters during the pandemic and beyond may also now be an influencing factor.  Certainly, at the moment, it would be sensible to find out what the position is in any relevant countries and take this into consideration when making a decision.

If you are concerned about issues regarding divorce, being forced from your home or want more information about whether you may be able to divorce in England and Wales please feel free to contact us.




For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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