No Fault Divorce

No Fault Divorce

From 6 April 2022, people in England and Wales can get a ‘no fault’ divorce thanks to the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 finally taking effect.

While this should significantly simplify the legal process of ending a marriage, it is still important to seek expert legal advice when getting divorced. Not only does this help to ensure you complete all of the necessary paperwork correctly and promptly, but it is also vital for issues like dividing your finances and arrangements for children.

At Wolferstans, we have many years of experience guiding people through divorce and separation. By providing clear, practical advice and support, we can help your divorce proceedings to go ahead as swiftly and smoothly as possible. We are highly skilled in dealing with the financial side of divorce and matters involving children, so can make sure you get the right arrangements in place for your future and that of your loved ones.

To help minimise the risk of unwanted conflict, we take a collaborative approach to divorce wherever possible, with many of our team being members of leading family law network Resolution. This reflects our commitment to keeping divorce amicable while making sure our clients’ interests are protected at all times.

While it might be tempting to think that the new no fault divorce rules mean you can simply ‘do it yourself’, we strongly recommend speaking to an expert divorce solicitor to ensure you do not make any costly mistakes.

If you would like to find out more about no fault divorce and other changes to divorce rules being introduced at the same time, please take call us on 01752 292201.

Have a fixed fee initial consultation with our divorce lawyers

We offer a fixed fee initial consultation with one of our divorce lawyers for £150 + VAT. This includes a meeting with one of our experienced experts and a written summary of their advice.

To arrange your consultation, please contact our New Client Team on 01752 292201.

Why choose Wolferstans for divorce legal advice?

Independently recognised expertise

Wolferstans’ Family Law has an established reputation for providing first-class legal expertise and exceptional personal service.

Family Law Partner Phil Thorneycroft is ranked Band 1 by respected client guide Chambers & Partners, recognising him as one of the leading family law solicitors in the country.

Our team includes a number of Resolution members and Resolution accredited specialists, including Resolution accredited collaborative lawyers.

Strong skills in alternative dispute resolution

Conflict is something most people want to avoid when getting divorced. We understand this and place this at the forefront of our approach.

Our team are experts in methods including private negotiations and collaborative law, so can maximise the likelihood of resolving matters around finances and children amicably, without the need for court proceedings.

Get the divorce and the future you want

At the outset, we will take the time to understand the issues you are dealing with and the outcome you want to achieve, both for the immediate future and in the longer term. We will then work with you to make sure your divorce goes the way you want, and you get the future you are hoping for.

No fault divorce FAQs

What is a no fault divorce?

When people talk about a ‘no fault’ divorce, they mean one where there is no legal requirement for one of the spouses to “take the blame” for the failure of the marriage.

The new divorce rules will facilitate no fault divorce by allowing an individual or couple to simply make a declaration that the marriage is over, and the divorce will be granted on this basis alone, with no need to give reasons for the failure of the marriage.

Under the previous divorce rules in England and Wales, it was normally necessary for one of the spouses to accept the blame unless the separating couple were willing to wait a long time. This is because, in order to prove your marriage had “irretrievably broken down”, you needed to show one of the following five reasons:

  1. Adultery – where one spouse had been unfaithful with a member of the opposite sex (same-sex infidelity was not covered and was classed as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead).
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – where one spouse had behaved in a way that meant the other could not reasonably be expected to continue the relationship (this covered a very broad range of issues and was the most commonly used reason).
  3. Desertion – where one spouse had left the other for at least 2 years out of the last 2.5 years with the intention to end their relationship and without the other spouse’s knowledge or a good reason.
  4. Separation for 2 or more years – if both spouses agreed to the divorce.
  5. Separation for 5 or more years – if one spouse opposed the divorce.

The first 3 reasons all required one spouse to take the blame, while the final 2 required the couple to live separately for at least 2 years before filing for divorce.

Why is no fault divorce being introduced?

The previous, fault-based, system was considered to be out of date. It was recognised that many modern divorces come about for reasons that are not necessarily any one person’s fault. The old rules also meant that, if sufficient reason for the divorce could not be established, people could be trapped in a marriage they wish to leave, as happened in the well-publicised Owens vs Owens divorce case.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 modernises divorce proceedings by allowing an individual or couple to end their marriage simply because they wish to, without the need for a court to approve their reasons for doing so. As well as making divorce simpler, this also removes the potential for unnecessary conflict by taking away the need for one party to have to accept the blame.

When will no fault divorce begin in the UK?

Individuals or couples will be able to apply for a no fault divorce in England and Wales from 6 April 2022. Scotland already has its own provision for no fault divorces, while in Northern Ireland, there has not yet been any legislation brought forward to introduce no fault divorces.

How long does a no fault divorce take?

There is no set time limit as it will depend on factors, including how quickly you complete each stage of the process.

However, from 6 April 2022, there will be a minimum wait of 20 weeks from the time the divorce petition is issued by the court to the date on which it issues a ‘conditional order’ stating that the court sees no reason why the divorce should not go ahead. Once the conditional order is granted, you must wait another 6 weeks before the ‘final order’ will be granted, which legally ends the marriage.

Therefore, at a minimum, it will take 26 weeks (6 months) for a divorce to be completed under the new rules.

How much does a no fault divorce cost?

We can offer fixed fee divorce advice for making the divorce application or responding to an application made by your spouse.

For assistance with division of finances and arrangements for children, we will normally charge an hourly rate dependent on the level of expertise required.

What other changes are being introduced by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020?

As well as removing the need to assign blame to be granted a divorce, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has also introduced a number of other key updates to divorce law, including:

  • Removing the possibility for someone to oppose a divorce started by their spouse (known as defending a divorce)
  • Allowing joint petitions, where a couple can apply for the divorce together
  • Changing some of the language used into plain English, so the ‘decree nisi’ becomes the ‘conditional order’, and the ‘decree absolute’ becomes the ‘final order’
  • Adding a minimum time frame for the granting of the conditional order (20 weeks from the time the court receives the divorce petition)

Getting divorced? Don’t forget to update your Will

When getting divorced, one thing you must not overlook is your Will. If your spouse is named in your Will, then they will still stand to inherit until you are divorced unless you make a new Will. If you do not have a Will, your spouse will automatically inherit if you were to die before your divorce was finalised.

This really is not something you should put off. We advise updating your Will as soon as you are sure that you will be getting divorced to avoid any risk of your estate not going to the people you would wish.

Find out how we can help with making a Will.

Book your fixed fee initial consultation with our divorce lawyers

We offer a fixed fee initial consultation with one of our divorce lawyers for £150 + VAT. This includes a meeting with one of our experienced experts and a written summary of their advice.

To arrange your consultation, please contact our New Client Team on 01752 292201.

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