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No Fault Divorce in the United Kingdom: Separating spouses can now obtain a divorce, dissolution of civil partnership or legal separation without having to assign responsibility for the relationship’s demise.
The new rule on no-fault divorce in the United Kingdom, which was initially announced in February 2019, will take effect on 6 April 2022, bringing long-awaited revisions to an area of law that had remained the same since 1973.
Under the new law, separated couples no longer need to cite one of the ‘five facts’ to establish the cause for divorce — the irretrievable dissolution of the marriage. Instead, the new law advocates a more constructive approach to divorce, fostering reconciliation and introspection whenever possible, but ultimately deferring to the couple’s judgement.
What is a divorce without fault?
A no-fault or no-blame divorce is a considerably more straightforward and peaceful kind of divorce. In accordance with the no fault divorce procedure, couples can petition for divorce or civil partner dissolution without having to blame their former partner to demonstrate the irretrievable breakup of the marriage.
The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act of 2020 includes provisions for no-fault divorce and other pertinent changes that will solely affect processes relating to the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership. They have nothing to do with the split of finances or child custody agreements.
How will a divorce without fault work?
The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act, which established no-fault divorce, has enacted the following no-fault divorce statutes:
- Kept as the only cause of irretrievable relationship collapse
- Eliminated the need to establish one or more facts to demonstrate irreparable breakdown.
Updated the divorce terminology, for instance:
- “Decree Nisi” is now “Conditional Order.”
- “Decree Absolute” is now “Final Order.”
- The ‘petitioner’ (the individual filing the application) is now referred to as the ‘applicant.
- Introduced joint applications where both partners concur that the relationship has irretrievably dissolved (applicants can progress and submit a sole application if their partner does not agree)
- The power to contest a divorce, dissolution, or separation has been eliminated.
- Introduced a new minimum term of 20 weeks between the commencement of proceedings and issuing a “Conditional Order.”
- Preserved the six-week interval between the conditional order and the final order.
- What divorce without fault implies for separating couples
- The newly enacted no-fault divorce laws will have a number of effects for divorcing couples, including:
No more blame. If both parties are in agreement, they can file a joint petition for divorce or dissolution, providing for a genuinely amicable split.
No one will have to worry about their spouse fighting the divorce or dissolution and forcing them to go to court, saving them a great deal of time, money, and stress.
Most couples will have to wait around six months for their divorce or dissolution to be finalised under the new guidelines. This interval is designed to be a time for both parties to deliberate on whether they actually desire a separation.
During this period, couples must continue to establish individual plans to:
- Share their resources
- Accept maintenance obligations (if necessary)
- Determine the Child’s residence and contact
- Agree on an ongoing parenting plan
How can I file for a divorce without fault?
A person may submit a solitary divorce petition, which is then served on their former spouse, or a joint divorce petition, which the couple submits together.
Online filing for a no-fault divorce is possible. Only the names and addresses of both parties and the original (or certified copy) of the marriage certificate are necessary.
If a solitary application is filed, the courts shall send a copy of the divorce application (known as a divorce petition under earlier laws) to the other spouse. Within 14 days, they must confirm receipt of the application and return an “acknowledgement of service” document to the court.
How long does a divorce without blame take?
The duration of the no-fault divorce procedure is uncomplicated. It is currently expected that no-fault divorce proceedings require at least 26 weeks to conclude.
This is because there are now two distinct minimum waiting times. The Conditional Order (formerly known as the Decree Nisi) is granted after a 20-week waiting period, followed by a 6-week waiting time for the Final Order (formerly known as the Decree Absolute).
The time required to finalise a divorce will also depend on other issues, such as the division of assets and child custody arrangements.
A divorce without blame may be contested.
No, a no-fault divorce cannot be disputed unless the court feels obligated to investigate highly unusual facts. This may occur when an English or Welsh court lacks the authority to handle a divorce or when a marriage is invalid.
When did no fault divorce come in?
On 6 April 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act of 2020 introduced no-fault divorce.
Must both parties consent to a no-fault divorce?
Due to the elimination of divorce contestation, neither party is required to consent to a no-fault divorce. An individual may still file for divorce on their own, even if their spouse is not necessarily in agreement.
Why was divorce law change necessary?
Under the previous rule, separating couples in the United Kingdom were required to present one or more “facts” to prove that their partnership had irretrievably broken down. These were the facts:
- Unreasonable conduct
- Adultery (not available for civil partnership breakup) (which was not available for civil partnership dissolution)
- Desertion for a minimum of two years
- Separation for a minimum of two years with the agreement of both parties
- Separation for a minimum of five years, even if one party objects.
- The petition for divorce was filed by one partner, who was essentially forced to “blame” the other for the divorce. If one spouse disagreed with the divorce or the facts upon which it was based, they could fight the divorce and possibly prevent it.
- This law was criticised for many years for being antiquated and needlessly provoking friction between couples. In the great majority of divorce situations, there is no such fighting; the couple drifts apart or determines they have different life goals.
Even if there is tension in the marriage, many have maintained that the “blame game” in divorce is unnecessary. Why should one spouse be required to justify their grievances or even be pressured to stay married when the other does not agree with their reasons if they desire a divorce?
Throughout the years, there have been countless troubling instances of people being compelled to remain married to mismatched and occasionally abusive partners. For instance, Tina Owens lost her Supreme Court case to divorce her husband in 2018, forcing her to remain married against her will until 2020, when five years of separation would allow her to divorce without her husband’s consent.
In response to this case, the government eventually responded to calls to alter divorce legislation in April 2022.
How our no fault divorce solicitors at Tann Law can assist you
Although a no-fault divorce should theoretically make the divorce process simpler, it is still crucial to consult with divorce and separation attorneys who can provide you with practical, sensitive guidance.
Whether you are filing a solo or joint application, many critical aspects must be carefully considered, which is where our Coventry, Birmingham and Leamington Spa based no-fault divorce solicitors may be of assistance.
Even after a divorce petition has been filed and a Final Order has been granted, numerous further arrangements must be established. Such as the division of assets and the custody of any children from the marriage.
No matter the circumstances, our divorce solicitors consistently aim to provide our clients and their families with a secure resolution. Our team is educated in collaborative law and mediation, giving a less adversarial approach that fosters a more peaceful divorce resolution.
Do you require assistance with divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, or separation?
Tann Law Solicitors is a reputable and accredited family law legal firm that specialises in all aspects of family law, ranging from simple separations to complex divorce cases.
We are members of the Law Society, and our knowledge and experience in this field meet the highest customer service requirements.
For advice on no-fault divorce or any other civil partnership dissolution or separation problem, please contact our divorce lawyers by phone or online enquiry form.