So what exactly is no fault divorce and how does it work?
No-fault divorce in the UK refers to the legal process of ending a marriage without the need to prove fault or wrongdoing by either party.
This means that couples can obtain a divorce without having to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage. The introduction of no-fault divorce was aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples and making the process of obtaining a divorce simpler and less contentious.
Key points about no-fault divorce in the UK include:
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which came into force on April 6, 2022, represented the biggest shake-up in divorce law for more than half a century.
The new legislation has streamlined the process and removed the need for separating couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage, allowing them to focus on practical decisions involving children or finances and look to the future.
No-fault divorce allows for a more straightforward and amicable approach to separation, and it can be initiated through a joint application or a sole application served to the former partner. The process is now more accessible and understandable.
No-fault divorce has been seen as a positive step in reducing conflict, protecting the mental health of all parties involved, and allowing couples to move on with their lives without the bitterness of an adversarial divorce process
What is the process?
1. File an Application: The process begins with filing an application, normally online now, for divorce, either by yourself (sole application) or jointly with your spouse (joint application).The application includes a 'statement of irretrievable breakdown', which is a declaration that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
2. Court Issues the Divorce: After the application is filed, the court issues the divorce, which is a formality that legally starts the divorce proceedings.
3. Service of the Application: For sole applications, the court will send the application to the former partner. This step is not required for joint applications.
4. Conditional Order and Final Order: There is a minimum wait of 20 weeks between the application and the granting of a conditional divorce order, followed by a further 6-week period before the final divorce order is issued. The final application often isn’t applied for until the financial issues have been resolved, especially if there are pension assets that need to be considered. If there might be a pension sharing order as part of a financial settlement the final divorce order should not be applied for until 28 days have elapsed from the date a financial agreement is approved by a Judge.
5. Reflection Period and Arrangements: During the waiting period, both parties are expected to reflect on their decision to divorce. They also need to make separate arrangements related to finances, maintenance payments, child residence/contact, and an ongoing parenting plan.
In summary, the process for filing for a no-fault divorce in the UK involves filing an application, paying the court fee, the court issuing the divorce, a waiting period, and then finalising the divorce when appropriate.
How long does it take?
The no-fault divorce process typically takes a minimum of 26 weeks to finalise. This timeframe includes a 20-week waiting period for the Conditional Order (formerly known as the Decree Nisi) to be issued, followed by an additional 6-week waiting period for the Final Order (formerly known as the Decree Absolute) although, as referred to above, sometimes the application for the Final Order needs to be delayed until after the financial agreement has been approved by a Judge.
The 26-week period is intended to provide a reflection period for both parties to consider whether they truly want to separate, and during this time, couples need to make separate arrangements related to finances and their future parenting plan.
The cost of filing for a no-fault divorce in the UK involves several components. The court fee to apply for a divorce is £593, although they are talking about increasing this fee to over £600!
Additionally, if a solicitor is engaged to handle the legal aspects of filing for the divorce, the cost can vary. Some law firms offer fixed fees for handling no-fault divorces, such as £500 - £600 plus VAT plus the court fee. It is not necessary to use a lawyer, many people deal with their online divorce application themselves.
It's important to note that individuals on a limited income may be eligible for exemptions or help with paying the court fee.
If you have any questions about the divorce process, how to approach sorting out the financial issues that need to be addressed as part of separation and divorce, or creating a parenting plan why not book one of our Family Law Information Meetings on our website. You can call us on 0800 2062258 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org