Divorce can be a complex and emotionally draining process. But what if there was a way to make it easier, without placing blame on either party involved? This is where the concept of “no-fault divorce” comes in.
We’ll explain everything you need to know about no-fault divorce, as well as the changes made to the process.
Dealing with divorce or family legal issue? Our experienced team can provide the help and support you need. Explore our Divorce and Family Law section to learn more about how BGW can help.
What is a no-fault divorce?
No-fault divorce is a process by which couples can dissolve their marriage without assigning blame to either party. This provides a simpler, amicable way to end a marriage while still safeguarding the interests of both parties.
Who can get a no-fault divorce?
A no-fault divorce is available to those who are entitled to a divorce in either England and Wales. This includes married couples who live or are domiciled here, as well as those who were married in another country. The court requires jurisdiction to deal with the case, regardless of whether both parties are British citizens.
Divorcees whose marriages took place outside England and Wales may need to pay heed to different guidelines and laws in Scotland.
They should make sure they have sought professional legal advice from knowledgeable experts and get any information they need before submitting their application.
How long does a no fault divorce take?Under the new process, a divorce can take up to 10 months in total. Divorce proceedings begin with an application for a divorce order by either one or both of the parties. 20 weeks later a Conditional Order is made by the court. Then, 6 weeks after this, the Final Order will be made, and the divorce settled.
This provides enough space for both parties to come to terms with their decision and move on without any resentment or anger.
Changes to no-fault divorce
The divorce process has been reformed as a result of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. As of April 2022, this legislation has made several changes to the divorce process including:
Spouses no longer need to have blame
Since 2022, couples in England and Wales have been able to divorce without having to assign formal blame for the end of their marriage.
They are no longer required to provide evidence in the irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a result of:
- Unreasonable or abusive behaviour
- Two years separation with consent
- Five years separation
Previously, a party would need to require proof the marriage was no longer tenable. The new no-fault divorce rules eliminate this. Now all that’s needed is confirmation from either party that the marriage cannot continue.
You can apply for a joint divorce
Couples now have the option to make a joint application when seeking a divorce. Before, only one partner would file for divorce, which could create a feeling of disparity in the settlement. Now, both parties can mutually agree and sign off on the necessary paperwork to end their marriage.
The joint process gives couples equal footing in court proceedings and also allows them to be treated as partners instead of adversaries. This approach can help clarify any outstanding issues, making things feel more equitable, so that any final decisions accurately reflect everyone’s wishes.
You can no longer contest a divorce
Under the new divorce law it’s no longer possible for couples to contest a divorce based on circumstances. Previously claims for things such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery could be used to challenge or delay a dissolution.
Now, partners wishing to contest a divorce must do so on the basis of jurisdiction. This is proving that the court does not have the legal authority to make decisions about their marriage and family life.
Despite this being beneficial for couples, those left out in the cold by its simplicity may suffer more when they have exhausted their right to contest it altogether.
For couples whose marriages have ceased to work, the ability to get divorced online is a major step forward. HM Courts and Tribunals Service launched a service that has transformed the process of applying for a divorce into an easy, online experience.
This allows much of the paperwork to be taken care of digitally, making it more convenient and accessible than ever before.
The divorce process may take longer
Under the new legal process, a divorce application now requires a 20-week waiting period. This provides enough time to allow both parties to resolve any financial settlements as well as any child arrangements. Furthermore, it then takes an additional 6 weeks to receive their final order, legally ending their marriage.
Couples have access to many different avenues in terms of finding support throughout this period, ranging from counselling and mediation services from qualified professionals.
This extended period sets out clearer goals which can help boost communication. Thereby affording parties a better understanding of terms and potential roadblocks both during and after the settlement.
The language used for divorce has also been changed:
A ‘divorce petition’ is now an ‘application’
A ‘Petitioner’ is now an ‘Applicant’
The ‘Decree Nisi’ is now a ‘Conditional Order’
A ‘Decree Absolute’ is now a ‘Final Order’.
How do I get a no-fault divorce?
There are typically three options for filing for a no-fault divorce:
1. File yourself using the government portal.
2. Use a solicitor to handle the paperwork on your behalf.
3. Use an online divorce service.
It’s important to note that these options only apply to the initial filing for divorce. Separate agreements for parenting and financial arrangements will typically need to be made outside of this process.
We generally recommend hiring a solicitor for such arrangements. They can provide valuable insight and guidance throughout what can often be a difficult process. Furthermore, they can also ensure that any paperwork is completed properly and efficiently.
How much does no fault divorce cost?
The cost of a no-fault divorce in England and Wales is largely dependent on the complexity of your situation, but a minimum mandatory court fee must be paid in all cases. This court fee currently stands at £593, although it could be lower if you receive certain benefits or have a low income.
Do I need a solicitor for a no-fault divorce?
It’s recommended to seek legal advice before starting divorce proceedings. A solicitor can provide invaluable assistance throughout the process, making it much easier for you. They can also contact your partner’s solicitor on your behalf, saving you from having to do so.
Additionally, they can represent you in court and speak on your behalf so that you don’t have to. This can be especially useful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the process and don’t know where to start.
Though no-fault divorces provide an easier way of ending a marriage, they can be an intricate process. That’s why it is important to understand the legalities of the process before starting. Having a legal professional by your side to provide advice and guidance is the best way to ensure that you make it through this difficult time as quickly and easily as possible.
If you would benefit from advice on your divorce, our team of experienced solicitors can help. Contact BGW Solicitors for a consultation and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs. To save you time, we offer the convenience of meetings in any of our three physical offices or virtual meetings online.