After a series of false starts, the new legislation for the No Fault Divorce finally came into force on 6th April, 2022. The arrival of the new divorce laws has been met with a mixed response.
Nevertheless, here are 10 things you need to know about no blame divorce… thank you to Holland Family Law
No blame needs to be assigned
The new, no fault divorce laws comes with no requirement to specify a reason why your marriage or civil partnership has broken down. Instead, both parties can apply for a court order to dissolve a marriage without pointing fingers at each other. Advocates of no fault divorce claim that this will help to reduce bitter divorce battles, ease legal costs and reduce the strain on family courts already under pressure.
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Joint applications can be made by couples
A couple can mutually agree that a relationship has irretrievably broken down as the sole ground for wanting a divorce, and this can be submitted as a joint statement. An application can be made online and the respondent does not need to defend the divorce or cross apply for a divorce.
A divorce cannot be contested by either spouse
The new, no fault divorce laws prevent one party from contesting a divorce, dissolution or separation if the other party is adamant that they want to divorce. However, UK government figures show that the option to contest a divorce is taken up in less than 2% of cases.
Advocates argue that removing the power of one party to contest a divorce will help domestic abuse sufferers, who are often forced to remain in coercive relationships because their partner can challenge a divorce.
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It is still possible to contest a divorce under the new laws on the grounds of jurisdiction, the legal validity of the marriage, fraud or coercion and procedural compliance.
Divorce terminology will change
Under the new laws, divorce language has been updated:
- A Decree Nisi has become a ‘Conditional Order’ – this is a document issued by the court that states that they see no reason why you can’t divorce.
- A Decree Absolute is now known as a ‘Final Order’ – this is the legal document that is issued to officially end your marriage. You will need to wait six weeks after a ‘Conditional Order’ is issued before you can apply for a ‘Final Order’.
- The Petitioner has become the applicant – the person filing the divorce application is now referred to as the applicant.
20-week wait for a Final Order
The new, no fault divorce laws impose a minimum period of 20 weeks between an initial divorce application and a Conditional Order. This means that your divorce could take up to six months to complete. The UK government has stated that the waiting time gives couples ‘ample time to reflect on a divorce application and the opportunity to reconsider’.
The new laws will keep the minimum six-week period between a Conditional Order and when the Final Order can be made.
Divorce lawyers have welcomed the changes
Divorce lawyers across the UK, Holland Family Law included, have largely welcomed the divorce reforms. Meanwhile, the president of The Law Society, I. Stephanie Boyce, said: ‘’No fault divorce will cut unnecessary conflict from the separation process – allowing couples to move on amicably.”
“This divorce reform will bring our marriage laws into the 21st century and ensure that, in the future, separating couples and their children do not suffer unnecessary conflict,” Ms Boyce added.
Divorce application fees will be frozen
The fee for a divorce application will remain at £593, having risen from £550 in September 2021. However, there are calls for the £593 fee to be scrapped. The Law Society has argued that the fee is too high and discriminates against people unable to afford it.
The Law Society has urged the UK government to cut family court fees to reflect that the new, no fault divorce system will require less administration.
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Financial settlements will still be separate
While divorce reforms have been welcomed, financial settlements following a split remain as a separate process that runs parallel to divorce proceedings.
However, if there is a criticism of the new, no fault divorce laws, it’s that they will result in more rushed financial settlements.
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Research published by LCP reveals that only one-third of divorce cases have any kind of financial order attached to them, and not all of these will include pension orders either.
There are fears for women in particular – especially around pension values, which are often worth more than the family home – that they could enter retirement with inadequate pension provision.
However, a statement published by the Ministry of Justice said: “This is not a new problem and, in fact, our changes give couples more time to resolve their issues and greater chance of doing so amicably. We have committed to further exploring financial provision, including pension sharing, once the new laws are in force.”
Less time to seek financial advice
Amid concerns surrounding rushed financial settlements, there are fears that the new laws will leave divorce applicants with less time to seek the financial advice they need. The person filing for divorce must serve their application to the respondent within 28 days from issuing.
If the respondent is not served until the 28th day, they then only have 16 weeks until a Conditional Order is made. This will limit the time a respondent has to get financial advice and they could be ‘blindsided’ by the divorce.
The Law Society is currently campaigning for the notice period to start as soon as the respondent receives a divorce application, rather than at the start of proceedings – meaning when an ‘applicant’ applies for divorce.
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The previous system ended on 31st March
From 6th April, new paper and digital services became accessible.
Holland Family Law feature in The Hug Directory and they have written many informative blogs which are published across the site find more here
Help with no fault divorce laws
If you have been waiting to file for a divorce under the new, no fault divorce laws, reach out to Holland Family Law for support and guidance to help you navigate the new look divorce process.
We are completely discreet and offer a free, no obligation 30-minute consultation where we listen to the circumstances of your case and provide some options on the best way for you to proceed.Holland Family Law
Reach out to them now on 0116 436 2170