People living in England and Wales will soon be able to have a ‘no fault’ divorce. This should make the process of getting divorced much simpler and remove the potential for conflict over the reason for the divorce and over who is to blame.
From April 2022, it will be possible for married people to simply decide they no longer wish to be married and initiate divorce proceedings on this basis without any requirement to prove why their marriage has broken down and without needing their spouse’s consent to the divorce. This is happening due to the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 taking effect.
The introduction of no fault divorce is a significant change to the way divorce works in England and Wales, and so it is important that anyone thinking about getting divorced or responding to divorce proceedings initiated by their spouse fully understands the new rules and what to expect.
At hpjv solicitors, our highly experienced divorce solicitors in Newport are fully up-to-date with the new UK divorce rules and can provide clear, practical advice on what you need to do at every stage of divorce proceedings.
If you have any questions about no fault divorce or would like to discuss how we can help, please get in touch, and we will be happy to speak with you.
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What is a no fault divorce?
A no fault divorce means that there will be no need to assign blame for the end of the marriage during the legal process of applying for a divorce. This is a change from the previous rules, where it was necessary for one spouse to ‘take the blame’.
Under the old divorce rules in England and Wales, anyone who wanted to end their marriage would need to submit a divorce petition stating that their spouse was to blame for the failure of the marriage due to one of five reasons:
- Adultery – where their spouse had had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.
- Unreasonable behaviour – where their spouse has behaved in such a way that they cannot reasonably be expected to continue living with them.
- Desertion – where their spouse has left them for at least 2 years total out of the last 2.5 years without an agreement, without a good reason and with the intent to end the relationship.
- Separation for at least 2 years – if both spouses agree to the divorce.
- Separation for at least 5 years – whether both spouses agree or not.
The spouse receiving the petition (the ‘respondent’) would need to accept the facts set out in the petition (and thus accept fault for the failure of the marriage), or else they would need to ‘defend’ the divorce (i.e. contest the reasons given in the petition in court).
Why is no fault divorce being introduced?
No fault divorce has been introduced after a long campaign by various parties, including family law network Resolution. The aim is to remove unnecessary conflict from divorce proceedings by taking away any need for one party to accept blame for the end of the marriage.
As well as removing the need to assign blame, the new legislation also means that the respondent to a divorce petition no longer has the option to contest the divorce. This will prevent people from being trapped in a marriage they wish to leave because their spouse will not accept the terms of the divorce petition or does not wish to get a divorce.
Couples will now have the option of filing a joint divorce petition if they wish, although one spouse can still file for divorce by themselves if they prefer.
When will no fault divorce begin in the UK?
6 April 2022 is when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into effect in England and Wales. Couples wishing to have a ‘no fault’ divorce will be able to do so from this date.
No fault divorce is not currently an option in Scotland or Northern Ireland, and the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will not apply to these nations.
How does no fault divorce work?
Initiating divorce proceedings
When someone wishes to end their marriage, they will need to complete a divorce petition, including a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. No reason or proof will be required to support this.
The petition can be filled out by one spouse or by both spouses in a joint petition.
Responding to divorce proceedings
If the petition was made by one spouse without the other, then the other will receive a copy of the petition, but they will not have the option of contesting the divorce.
Timeframe for a no fault divorce
Once the divorce petition has been submitted, it will be a minimum of 20 weeks before a ‘conditional order’ is granted by the court, confirming that there is no legal reason the marriage cannot be ended. The conditional order is the new name for what was previously known as a ‘decree nisi’.
Once the conditional order is granted, there will then be a further 6-week wait before the ‘final order’ is granted, legally ending the marriage. The final order is the new name for what was previously known as a ‘decree absolute’.
How much does a no fault divorce cost?
The cost of a no fault divorce will depend on the circumstances and exactly what type of support you need. We will be happy to discuss our costs and provide a realistic estimate during your free initial consultation.
We offer fixed fee divorce services where appropriate, but these fees will vary based on whether you are the person starting the divorce process (the petitioner) or whether you have been served with a divorce petitioner (i.e. you are the ‘respondent’).
There is also a Court fee for issuing a divorce petition, although depending on your financial circumstances, this might be reduced or waived entirely.
If you require advice on children and financial matters, there will be an additional charge for this.
Our divorce law expertise
Our divorce lawyers in Newport have decades of experience guiding individuals and families through the complex issues surrounding the end of a relationship. We have strong skills in negotiation and alternative dispute resolution, so we can give you the best chance of achieving a divorce that is free from unnecessary conflict.
Several of our team are members of Resolution, a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from divorce and family law.
We also have the support of our Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited property team, who can help with any of the property issues that often arise during divorce and separation, including buying or selling your home, remortgaging and transfer of ownership.
HPJV Solicitors is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for the strength of our practice management and client care. We are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Speak to our divorce law solicitors in Newport today
For more information on getting a no fault divorce or any other divorce-related matters, please speak to our divorce lawyers in Newport, South Wales, by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form.