No-Fault Divorce – 6 months on: Key Points to Remember
In April this year, No Fault Divorce in England and Wales was introduced under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act. Under the new system, separating couples no longer have to place blame on the other or provide the Court with a reason as to why the marriage has broken down. Instead, a spouse, or a couple jointly, simply need to make an application to the court to confirm to the court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Once an application has been made and the court has issued the application, there is a mandatory 20-week waiting period before it is possible to apply for a conditional order (commonly known as the mid-point in divorce proceedings). Six weeks after the conditional order is granted, the applicant can apply for the final order which will legally end the marriage.
The new system has been widely regarded as a positive step as it removes unnecessary conflict and helps couples to focus on more important decisions/issues.
HMCTS Statistics show that in July 2022, 9,239 people made a sole application for a divorce and 2,356 made a joint application for divorce. It is thought that the joint application is less common as it can often be much more time effective for one party to get the application in as soon as they are ready (as sole applicant) and the other can then respond using the acknowledgment of service.
Whilst the divorce process itself has become vastly easier to navigate and manage, separating couples can sometimes then overlook the other important issues that are pertinent to deal with at the time of separation. Some key issues to remember are as follows:
1. Financial arrangements
The divorce application only deals with termination of the marriage/partnership. If you do not resolve your finances in a legally binding way, you will be in a vulnerable position as you will remain exposed to financial claims until you do.
It is always best practice to resolve your finances, either by:
• direct agreement
• negotiations with the help of solicitors; or
• via the Court route
Whichever way a financial resolution is achieved, it is important to have any agreement drawn up into a consent order to be approved by a judge. This is the only way it will become legally binding. It is common to seek specialist legal advice in relation to financial matters, so that you understand the options available to you on separation and the powers of the court.
2. Children matters
Whilst it is a challenging and emotional time for the couple separating, if there are children involved it can also be particularly tough for them.
It is essential that children get any support they need, and for parents try to resolve any issues around Child Arrangements as swiftly as possible so that the children are able to move forward and adapt to their new family dynamic.
Separating couples can often be unaware that one of the biggest and most crucial assets to be dealt with on separation is pensions.
It is important to be aware of this and to understand that the court has the power to make orders whereby a pension is shared between parties.
It will often be the case that separating couples will need specialist independent legal advice on, and sometimes a report by a pension actuary will be required.
The court fee to make a divorce application is currently £593, which is paid by the applicant. If it is a joint application, the court fee will be paid by applicant 1. Generally, any legal fees incurred such as solicitors fees are usually paid by the party who has sought advice.
The applicant can ask that the court orders the other party to pay some or all of their legal costs relating to the divorce, or they may request that the court fee is shared. If a costs order is made, the respondent is legally obliged to comply with the order.
5. Getting any relevant legal, emotional or financial support
Separation can be a complex and emotional time for everybody involved.
It is important that you seek any other specialist advice that you may need, whether that be technical legal advice, emotional support or specialist financial advice.
We appreciate that it can be a daunting and emotional time for couples going through divorce or separation. We have an experienced team of specialist family solicitors who are available to provide advice and navigate you through the process .We are specialists in divorce , financial matters on separation, child arrangements and cases with an international element.
If you have any questions about the issues mentioned here or any other related family law matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: email@example.com or telephone: