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No-fault divorce - what does it mean?

From 6th April 2022, the long-awaited introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce takes place in England and Wales.

To understand what this means for separating couples and how this differs from previous procedure, our Family & Mediation solicitor Kerry Read explains about the change in legislation.

What is No-fault divorce?

No fault-divorce will allow separating couples to rely solely on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This will end the dated ‘blame game’ culture as couples will no longer be required to blame one another or be separated for long periods of time.

Parties will be able to give notice of their intention to divorce or end their civil partnership as an individual or as a couple.

Once a petition is filed, each couple will be provided a 20-week ‘cooling-off’ period before proceeding to the next stage, which was called decree nisi.

The language on the forms will also change, with a petition now called ‘an application for divorce order’, decree nisi changed to ‘conditional order of divorce’ and ‘decree absolute’ changed to ‘final order of divorce’.

The court petition fee of £593 will remain applicable.

How does it differ from the previous divorce procedure?

Couples will simply need to confirm their marriage has irretrievably broken down, rather than prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion. Previously if one of these three reasons could not be proven, then the separating couple had faced two or five years of living apart in a ‘separation’ period before the marriage or partnership could be legally dissolved.

Couples will also now be able to file for a divorce together, rather than one person divorcing the other. This will foster a greater sense of cooperation between the parties and remove much of the acrimony caused by the previous law, which could exacerbate conflict and harm to an already fragile relationship.

Lastly, a party will no longer be able to contest a divorce. If one of you thinks it’s over – it is.

What this means for you

It’s envisaged that the new process will promote greater collaboration between parties – a necessity at a time when emotions are inevitably running high.

It will also allow parties to focus on other inevitable issues arising from the breakdown of a marriage, including arrangements for the children of the family and the matrimonial finances.

Do you still need a solicitor?

You should always seek legal advice and support.

By instructing a solicitor, you limit your exposure to what will remain an emotive and time demanding process. You can also be certain that your separation is resolved with correct advice and guidance.

If you would like to discuss your personal situation and how these changes could affect you, please do get in touch with us here at Fosters Solicitors.

Our Family Law team are hugely experienced in supporting those looking to end their relationship, negotiate their financial settlements and put arrangements in place for their children.  For a free no obligation chat please contact us on 01603 620508, or email familylaw@fosters-solicitors.co.uk.

This article was produced on the 6th April 2022 by our Family & Mediation team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.