Been There, Done That: Dr Dre And The Language Of Divorce 

Published on 15 June, 2021 | Hannah Currie

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously once observed that the US and UK were “two nations divided by a common language”.

He was, of course, referring to the fact that English is the principal language of both countries, yet there are many words which mean different things depending on which side of the Atlantic you are.

In Shaw’s day, Britain was regarded as providing something of a linguistic yardstick. However, in the seven decades since his death, popular culture and the reporting of events from the Americas have had enormous influence on our everyday vocabulary.

It’s a change which has been underlined in the last few days by news stories in recent about the divorce of the hugely successful rapper, music producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andre Young.

Best known by his stage name of Dr Dre, he had already won multiple Grammy awards before co-founding the Beats range of headphones which was bought by Apple for £2.1 billion in 2014 (

One recent article described how Young has now been declared “legally single” 12 months after his wife, Nicole, petitioned to end their 25-year marriage (

He has also donated tens of millions of dollars to the support arts, technology and innovation education in his home state of California (

Whilst every divorce transforms a spouse into someone who’s single again, the terminology in the Young case reflects subtle but significant differences.

In England and Wales, there is no specific declaration of the sort in the matter featuring Dr Dre.

When myself and my colleagues at Hall Brown are speaking to individuals who believe that their marriages have irretrievably broken down, we describe divorce as a three-step process.

After submitting the petition setting out the grounds on which a divorce is sought, the next phase sees the granting of something called a decree nisi.

Six weeks and one day after that decree is issued, the husband or wife who has brought the petition can apply for a decree absolute.

It’s only after that, that the men and women involved are single once more.

Although there are different legal terms used in California, there are still important similarities between the Young divorce and many of those divorces conducted in England and Wales.

Notably, Dr Dre and his now ex-wife are still to conclude the terms of any financial settlement.

Whilst many couples are able to go their separate ways in an entirely amicable fashion, we always advise them not to finalise their finances until the administration of divorce – the decrees nisi and absolute – are completed.

That’s because circumstances can change over the course of the months that the process takes and it makes sense, therefore, not to prematurely tie such matters up.

Having said that, it is absolutely important to obtain a consent order, the document often referred to as putting ‘a financial full-stop’ to the joint financial ties of a marriage.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show that fewer than one-third of divorcees actually do so (

That presents the prospect of a former spouse returning at any point in the future to seek a share of inheritance, the proceeds of promotion or business growth or even, in the case of Euromillions winner Nigel Page, a lottery win ( at any point in the future.

Media reports, though, suggest that division of the estimated $1 billion fortune amassed by Dr Dre over the course of his marriage is likely to be determined in a rather more considered manner.

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