No-Fault Divorce: Everything you need to know
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 – commonly nicknamed the “no-fault divorce law” – has come into force in England & Wales as of 6 April 2022.
The introduction of the Act will have a tremendous impact upon couples who wish to divorce without apportioning blame to the other party. If you wish to divorce in England & Wales, you will no longer need to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation.
Who Can Apply for a No-Fault Divorce?
The new legislation applies to couples in marriages and civil partnerships. It is hoped that the legislation will give couples the option to apply for a divorce without the need to demonstrate fault or wrongdoings, and in doing so, avoid the potential “blame game”.
Divorce and Separation
Going through a relationship breakdown can be difficult enough without confusing legal jargon and worries about the process. Our free guide walks you through the divorce process, the first 3 steps you should take, and the different routes available to get the best outcome.
Until 6 April 2022, couples wishing to divorce had to prove that their marriage had ‘irretrievably’ broken down with the following 5 grounds:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years separation with ‘consent’
- Five years separation
As couples could not apply for divorce together, it remained the burden of one party to prove one of the grounds caused the breakdown of the marriage.
In the case where the marriage had broken down without fault, many couples waited until two years of separation, as they did not wish to implicate fault in one another.
The new No-fault Divorce legislation aims to remove this roadblock and ease the process for those wanting a divorce without fault or blame.
As expert divorce solicitors, we guide our clients through every part of the process. Every couple and family is different, and the grounds chosen depends entirely upon individual circumstances.
From the moment that application is made until proceedings start there is a minimum 20-week ‘cooling off period’, to ensure the couples are firm in their decision to proceed. It is estimated that the entire process, including the 20-week cooling off period, will take a minimum of 6 months.
It is important to note that the requirement to be married for at least one year prior to applying for divorce will remain.
Married couples and civil partners will be eligible to seek a no-fault divorce once the legislation is in practice.
Neither party will be able to contest a no-fault divorce. When using the current grounds for divorce, the respondent (the spouse receiving the petition for divorce) can object and potentially block the divorce by contesting the grounds.
Under the new no-fault divorce option, neither party will be able to object, however there may still be considerable and complex work to do around division of your assets, including pensions and property, and child arrangements.
Yes, your ex-spouse may be able to make a claim against you unless you have obtained a legally binding Financial Order from the Court.
Many divorcing couples are not aware that a Final Order will not protect them from a claim by their ex-spouse. Even if you have legally divorced, if you do not obtain a Financial Order, your ex-spouse could make a financial claim against you at any time.
If you and your ex-partner do not have any assets to split, you may wish to create a Clean Break Order, which will ensure that your ex-partner cannot make any financial claim against you in future.
While we understand that many couples wish to Divorce relatively quickly, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that your finances, property, assets, pensions, and child arrangements are all agreed at the same time as you legally divorce.
If you or your spouse are considering divorce, it is very important that you are listened to. We offer all clients an initial diagnostic meeting. During your meeting, one of our family solicitors will take the time to understand what has happened and listen to your needs.
We will then talk through your roadmap, which is a blend of your wishes and our legal expertise. We will look at the individual circumstances of your relationship and family, discuss the potential issues, and agree upon a plan of action that works for you.