No Fault Divorce is part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. It will come into law on the 6th April 2022 in England and Wales.

In this article, we’ll explain what this change means for separating couples.

 

What is No Fault Divorce?

No fault divorce allows couples to get divorced without having to blame each other for the breakdown of the relationship. This change also applies to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

It will reduce conflict and allow couples to work out issues involving children, finances and property.

 

The Problems With Current Divorce Law and Why it Needs to Change

Divorce law hasn’t changed since 1973. Back then, society’s attitude to marriage was very different that it is today.

Under current law, separating couples have to rely on one or more of the ‘five facts’ to prove their relationship has irretrievably broken down. These five facts are:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years separation with consent
  5. Five years’ separation without consent

In essence, it forces one person to blame the other for the breakdown of their relationship.

If you can’t or won’t lay blame, you can only get divorced if you’ve been separated for two years, if you both agree to it. If a spouse refuses to the divorce, you need be separated for five years before applying without their agreement.

This law has been criticised for many years. Both by divorce lawyers and those unfortunate to go through a divorce. Establishing blame isn’t the best way to start a divorce. Especially when there are children involved and a financial settlement to negotiate.

If one spouse feels unfairly blamed and disagrees on the grounds for divorce, they can contest it. In some cases, they can prevent it from happening altogether.

This happened to Mrs Tina Owens in 2018. Her husband denied her claims of unreasonable behaviour and a Supreme Court judge refused to dissolve their marriage.

In reality though, most marriages break down because couples drift apart. The need to place blame is completely unnecessary.

 

Arguments Against No Fault Divorce

Some oppose the introduction of no fault divorce into UK law. They argue that is damages the sanctity of marriage. That couples will enter into marriage too easily.

They also argue that making divorce more accessible, people will use it as a solution to their problems instead of working through them.

 

How Does No Fault Divorce Work?

Under the new no fault divorce law;

Updates to Divorce Wording and Terminology

The language and terminology used in divorce law is out of date. It will be updated;

  • ‘Decree Nisi’ will become ‘Conditional Order’
  • ‘Decree Absolute’ will become ‘Final Order’
  • ‘Petitioner’ (the person applying for divorce) will become ‘Applicant’

Remove the Need For Blame

With the introduction of no fault divorce, a couple can divorce on the grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown’.  This removes the need lay blame and prove one of the five facts.

Couples Can Apply For Divorce Together

If both parties agree, they can make a joint application for divorce or dissolution. This creates the environment for a very amicable separation.

It Will No Longer Be Possible to Contest a Divorce

No fault divorce also removes the ability for a spouse contest a divorce or dissolution. So even if one spouse doesn’t agree to divorce or dissolution, it’s irrelevant. This removes the expense, time and stress of going to court.

At Least 20 Weeks Between the Application and Conditional Order

There will be a minimum timeline of 20 weeks between the application and conditional order.

This is called the ‘period of reflection’. It will give couples the opportunity to reflect and try and save their marriage before committing to divorce.

After that, there will be a further six week period between the conditional order and the final order.

 

How Ringrose Law Can Help in a No Fault Divorce?

Although the role of divorce lawyers will change, we can still help you;

  • Work out to divide your finances on divorce, this includes the family home, savings, investments and pensions
  • Prepare all the legal documents
  • Negotiate any settlements
  • Advise and support you through disputes about finances, childcare etc.
  • Preparing cases for court if you can’t settle a dispute

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a No Fault Divorce Cost?

The current divorce court issue fee is £592. It’s not known yet if this will change.

Who Pays the Costs?

You should try and agree who is to pay the costs, and how much to pay, before you start a divorce. If you apply jointly for the divorce which you are now able to do, it may make sense to jointly pay the costs as well.

How Long Does a No Fault Divorce Take?

All in all, a no fault divorce should be settle within 6 months.

Will I Have to Go to Court?

No, it is all done through the court online portal.

How can we help?

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