No Fault Divorce

The faster, more amicable route of separation

The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 means getting divorced has never been faster, more straightforward or amicable.

After more than half a century of accusations and the ‘blame game’, peaceful resolution is paving the way.

Previously, the applicant filing for divorce needed to prove the marriage was irretrievably broken down using one of the following five grounds;

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years’ separation with consent
  5. Five years’ separation without consent

In the majority of cases, applicants would often be left little choice other than to choose unreasonable behaviour when citing reason for divorce. This ultimately resulted in one spouse being painted in a negative light and compelled couples who had made a mutual decision to separate to make erroneous accusations about the other’s conduct or face years of separation before a divorce application be granted. 

I’m getting divorced, how does this change affect me?

Firstly, there are still some requirements that need to be met before even beginning the divorce application process.

  • You have to have been married for over a year
  • Your relationship has permanently broken down
  • Your marriage is legally recognized in the UK (this includes same-sex marriage)

The change in the law now makes the avenues for divorce less adversarial and affords couples the right to divorce consensually and amicably by providing the option to engage in a no conflict divorce and end their marriage jointly ceasing the need to be separated for 2 years. If both parties to the divorce make an application together but one spouse reneges on the application, the other spouse can still continue with the divorce and apply for a conditional order as a sole applicant.

No longer is the applicant required to make allegations about the conduct of a spouse or apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage.

For applicants who wish to divorce their spouse without consent, no longer can one partner vindictively contest a divorce and lock their spouse into an unhappy marriage.

Our team at ORJ are here to support and guide you through this process.

When filing a divorce application, irretrievable breakdown remains the sole reason for divorce. There is now a minimum wait period of 20 weeks after your divorce application has been issued before you can apply for a conditional order (previously known as a decree nisi). Additionally, before the conditional order is granted by the courts, the party/parties submitting the divorce application need to have confirmed to the court that they wish for the application to continue. Again, confirmation cannot be given before the end of the 20 week wait period. It is hoped that increasing the length of time between divorce application and application of conditional order, allows couples to sort out child arrangements, property and finances amicably. Between a conditional order and a final order (previously known as decree absolute) being granted, there is an additional 6-week period.

You can read more here:

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/family-and-children/no-fault-divorce

How does this improve the process?

Undoubtedly, the reforms aim to end bad behaviour and remove acrimony at a time when emotions are already running high.

Divorces are rarely straightforward and where children are involved in the family dynamic, the reforms spare them from witnessing warring parents that may otherwise have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

We at ORJ are happy to assist you though the divorce process.

Under the previous divorce laws, the process often led to heightened and unnecessary conflict between the parties. This subsequently resulted in excessive involvement from solicitors and inevitably higher legal expenses. With fewer bars on divorce and the ability for applications to be made via a digital service, the intervention of solicitors may not always be necessary and will help keep the costs down for applicants.

What now needs to be done?

The division of finances are frequently the provenance of animosity and conflict in divorce proceedings. There are many situations in which one party believes they are not getting what they are rightfully entitled to. Here at ORJ, we are here to assist you throughout your divorce, through the rough and the smooth. Where difficulties may arise, we aim to make the process as stress-free and fair as possible. So if you’re going through a divorce, our experienced Family team with their sensitive and delicate approach are dedicated to helping you though the next step in your life.