No fault divorce Jones Myers Family Law Leeds Harrogate York

No fault divorce

A more amicable and constructive approach to divorce

Guiding you through ‘No-Fault Divorce’

Unprecedented reforms in divorce laws have resulted in the welcome introduction of ‘No-Fault Divorce’ on April 6, 2022. The monumental changes remove the need for separating couples to prove fault or to live apart for at least two years before being granted a divorce. 

Although the ‘blame game’ element has been eliminated from the divorce process, there are vital areas where clients seek our expertise to guide them through the new process and associated children and financial issues.

No fault divorce explained

In England and Wales, a no-fault divorce refers to the legal process of ending a marriage without having to prove that one spouse is at fault or responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Previously couples seeking a divorce had to provide evidence of adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, or a period of separation to demonstrate that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

However, a significant change to the divorce laws in England and Wales aims to simplify and modernise the divorce process.

Under the new legislation, the concept of fault has been removed from the divorce process. Instead of assigning blame, couples initiate a divorce by making a statement of irretrievable breakdown. This statement is the sole requirement for obtaining a divorce, and no evidence or details regarding the reasons for the breakdown are provided.

Reducing the potential for conflict

The new law introduced the option for joint applications, allowing couples to mutually apply for divorce. 

The changes are intended to promote a more amicable and constructive approach to divorce, emphasising the importance of minimising conflict, especially when children are involved. By removing the need to attribute fault, it is hoped that the process will become more streamlined, less acrimonious, and more focused on resolution and moving forward.

It’s important to note that these changes apply to England and Wales, as divorce laws can vary across the different countries within the United Kingdom, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Divorce procedure

You can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:

  • you’ve been married for over a year;
  • your relationship has permanently broken down;
  • your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)

In line with the ‘no fault’ changes to the legislation the divorce language has also been updated: 

  • ‘Petitioner’ (the person submitting the application) has become the ‘applicant’;
  • ‘Decree Nisi’ has become a ‘Conditional Order’;
  • ‘Decree Absolute’ has become a ‘Final Order’.

A conditional order is a document that says that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce.

The court will review your application for a conditional order. If the judge agrees, the court will send you and your husband or wife a certificate. The certificate will tell you the time and date you’ll be granted a conditional order. You will still be married after it has been granted.

You have to wait 20 weeks after your divorce application has been issued by the court before you can apply for a conditional order.

You can apply for a conditional order and continue with the divorce as a sole applicant, even if you started the divorce process jointly with your husband or wife.

You then need to wait at least 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) after it’s been granted before you can apply to finalise the divorce and end the marriage. This is when the Final Order can be made. This is the legal document that officially ends the marriage.

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