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No-Fault Divorce Takes Effect in England and Wales

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‘No-fault’ divorce was officially brought into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2022, as a part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. The changes have been introduced to help simplify the process of applying for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, and to reduce the potential for any unnecessary conflict.

What is no-fault divorce?

The term ‘no-fault divorce’ refers to the new processes and rules that will be used when dealing with divorce and civil partnership dissolution in England and Wales.

The most significant change introduced by no-fault divorce is that it is now no longer necessary for either partner ‘blame’ the other for the end of a marriage. Previously, it was a requirement for the person applying for a divorce to provide one of five reasons to prove the grounds for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

Now, it is not necessary to provide a reason. All that is needed when making a divorce application is to provide a statement that declares the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

There are also several additional changes to the general divorce process. These are:

  • Couples can now make joint divorce applications. The option to make a sole application is also still available
  • New waiting periods for different parts of the divorce process, giving a minimum timeframe of 26 weeks (6 months) for divorce
  • Revised divorce terminology
    • ‘Divorce Petition’ has been renamed ‘divorce application’
    • ‘Decree Nisi’ has been renamed ‘Conditional Order’
    • ‘Decree Absolute’ has been renamed ‘Final Order’
    • ‘Petitioner’ has been renamed ‘Applicant’ – this can be ‘Joint Applicants’ or ‘Sole Applicant’

Can no-fault divorce be contested?

Another key change to the divorce process following the introduction of no-fault divorce is the removal of the ability to contest a divorce application. This means that, if someone makes a sole application, their former partner will not be able to contest it, except in extremely limited circumstances. This might include situations where the English or Welsh courts do not have the required jurisdiction to deal with the divorce, or the marriage is not considered legally valid.

How long will it take to get a no-fault divorce?

As mentioned above, there are new time limits in place which will affect the minimum time it takes to obtain a no-fault divorce.

After a divorce application (either joint or sole) has been issued by the court, the applicant(s) can apply for a Conditional Order. However, they must wait 20 weeks before they can do so.

Once the Conditional Order has been issued, applicants can then apply for the Final Order. There is a mandatory 6-week waiting period at this stage. Once the Final Order is issued, the divorce or partnership is ended.

So, this means that it will take a minimum of 26 weeks to get a no-fault divorce. However, as there are often several other arrangements that need to be handled during divorce proceedings, such as the division of finances and provisions for children, it is likely that it will take longer than this before the entire process is finalised.

Do you still need to speak to a solicitor for no-fault divorce?

While no-fault divorce should, in theory, make the divorce process much more straightforward and reduce the potential for any unwanted conflict, it is still essential that you speak to an experienced divorce solicitor.

No-fault divorce has no bearing on the way other aspects of a divorce are dealt with. This means that you will still need to negotiate the division of your assets and make appropriate arrangements for your children. This can often prove to be an incredibly difficult task, especially without comprehensive legal guidance.

The support of a solicitor can also reduce the potential for disputes which may otherwise result in costly and time-consuming court proceedings.

Speak to our divorce solicitors in Clapham about no-fault divorce

Our divorce solicitor in Clapham will carefully listen to the circumstances relating to your divorce or separation, and provide empathetic, practical advice that is tailored to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Our firm is headed by Donna Goodsell, a highly skilled family law solicitor with over 20 years of experience. Donna is available to provide a highly personal service in relation to your no-fault divorce.

To speak to a member of the team about no-fault divorce, or to arrange an initial consultation, please call 020 7622 2221, email, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back.

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