No fault divorce

5 April, 2022

The biggest reform to divorce law of England and Wales since 1973 is effective from 6 April 2022, the “no fault divorce”.

Previously, those who wished to divorce without a mandatory separation period of at least two years had to give the court details of their spouse’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour – a process that many found unnecessarily intrusive and divisive.

How has divorce law changed?

Under the new legislation, married couples wishing to divorce no longer have to assign blame to one another. Either or both can submit a divorce application to the court confirming that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. This will save many divorcing couples at least one  difficult conversation. In so doing, it could significantly reduce animosity between and encourage a more collaborative approach to the divorce process.

What if my partner doesn’t agree with the decision to divorce?

From 6 April 2022 it is no longer possible for one spouse to contest the other’s decision to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership. However, it will still be possible to dispute the divorce on the following narrow grounds:

  • that the UK court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the divorce;
  • the marriage or civil partnership is not valid;
  • the marriage has already been ended; or
  • fraud or procedural non-compliance.

How do I apply for a no-fault divorce?

From April 2022, any person wishing to apply for divorce or dissolution makes either a sole application by themselves, or, if the couple both agrees to divorce they can make a joint application.

Applications are made online as before. We can help with that process if required but it is designed to be user friendly.

Sole applications cannot be changed to become a joint application. But a joint application can be turned into a sole application at a later stage. This means that careful consideration needs to be given in advance as to whether the application for divorce/dissolution is made by one party or both.

Applicants are no longer required to prove one of the five ‘facts’, instead they will now only be required to provide a simple statement confirming that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down.

How long will it now take to get divorced?

Under the new law the divorce will take not less than 6 months to complete. This is because a new 20 week minimum reflection period will be introduced between the date that the court issues the divorce application and the date that a Conditional Order (previously known as the decree nisi) can be applied for. Lawmakers wanted to promote a period of reflection and encourage couples to use this time to try to reach an agreement on practical matters such as a financial settlement and arrangements for any children of the family.

After the conditional order is made, there is a further waiting period of 6 weeks before the final order can be applied for (previously known as the decree absolute). The final order is the one that ends the marriage.

How we can help

We are experts in high net worth and complex cases, and instructing a solicitor can help save you not only time and money, but we can also take some of the stress out of the process. We are here to guide and work with you to consider how you will deal with your shared finances and with arrangements for your children.

If you are ready to talk about starting a divorce or separation, you can complete our online form below and our expert family lawyers will get back to you. There is no obligation to take things further unless you wish to.

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