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No-Fault Divorce UK – Guide

Married couples in the UK will soon have their divorce proceedings become less acrimonious due to the no-fault divorce laws in the UK. The no-fault divorce system aims to put an end to the blame game that most relationships suffer through.

What Is No-Fault Divorce?

The no-fault divorce laws allow separating couples to get a divorce, legal separation, or civil partnership dissolution without attributing fault to either party. Due to this civil reform of the divorce system in the UK, the divorce process will become much quicker and less bitter.

Under the current law, you can only get a divorce by initiating the process of separation by alleged fault on your partner.

The new law was announced in February 2019, and it will be implemented from April 2022. This change is one of the biggest divorce law reforms in the last 50 years

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If you wish to learn more about the no-fault divorce UK and how it can provide you with a quick divorce, civil partnership dissolution or separation, you can get in touch with our experts for legal advice. 

Our experienced divorce solicitors will walk you through the process of no-fault divorce UK by providing you with a clear insight into the proceedings. You can contact us on 0333 311 0925, email us or request a free call back from the experts according to your ease.

When Is No-Fault Divorce Coming To The UK?

The UK government passed the no-fault divorce act in June 2020 and the authorities will implement this law from April 2022. 

The new divorce law applies to England and Wales. The authorities have yet to create the regulations to put the Act into effect. 

What Is The Current Divorce Law?

Currently, you can only file for a divorce by putting fault on your spouse. Having to put the fault on a partner to be able to get a divorce, legal separation or civil partnership dissolution can put a lot of strain on relationships and cause anger or bitterness that can affect long term relationships and family dynamics. There are multiple ways a partner can put the fault on their other half. 

What Are The Ways Of Establishing Fault For Divorce or Separation?

Adultery 

Adultery is one of the three reasons you can choose to file for a divorce. If you prove adultery in court, all you have to do is say that it is intolerable for you to live with your partner. 

Desertion

Desertion is where a spouse abandons the other, and has fairly complicated proceedings. For example, you cannot start the divorce proceedings before two years of desertion.

Unreasonable behaviour

If you file a divorce by choosing this reason, you have to convince the court that the unreasonable behaviour makes it unacceptable for you to live with your partner. In this situation, the court requires serious examples for you to want a separation.

What If You Don’t Put Fault On Your Partner?

If you fail to allege one of the mentioned faults, you will only get a divorce when you have separated from your partner for two years after both spouses agreed on the divorce. If one of the spouses refuses or challenges your divorce application, you can get a divorce after five years. 

How Has The Divorce Law Changed in 2022?

The No-fault divorce UK reform will make the process of separation a lot more convenient for partners. According to this law, you do not have to blame your partner for filing a divorce. 

Either party can start the proceedings. Couples can also file the divorce with a joint application. This reform of the divorce law will make proceedings easier as you won’t have to blame your spouse. 

How Will a No-Fault Divorce Work? Key Facts to Know About

The new no-fault divorce UK law removes the requirement for you to prove an irretrievable breakdown by blaming the spouse for adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or desertion. 

This law uses the irretrievable breakdown as the sole ground for filing a divorce, as opposed to having to make allegations for a divorce. The new basis of the law remains the same, that you can only file a divorce when the relationship has irretrievably broken now.

The definition of an irretrievable relationship has changed in a way that both partners can initiate the proceedings through a joint application. This also simplifies the divorce process as you do not have to go for hearings where your partner objects to the divorce. In addition, this causes less stress to separate couples. 

Previously there were five proper ways of proving a relationship breakdown. These included the following. 

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Agreement after two years’ separation
  • One party request after five years’ separation

The court only requires one spouse to provide a legal statement mentioning that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Moreover, the court considers this as conclusive evidence without asking for a joint statement.

Key Changes To Divorce Legal Terms

The UK parliament has also made some key changes to legal terms in the divorce process. 

  • The “petitioner” will now be an “applicant.”
  • “Decree Nisi” will become a “Conditional Order.”
  • “Decree Absolute” will become a “Final Order.”

These changes make the court language more accessible and simplified for people.

What Are the Benefits of No-Fault Divorce?

The main benefit of the no-fault divorce is that spouses do not have to make any allegations about their partner. This significantly reduces acrimony, simplifies the process of divorce and can take some strain off families.

No More Blame

It allows the couple to separate peacefully without a blame game. This way, they can manage their finances more constructively.

Since couples can file a joint application for divorce, they won’t have to be worried about their partner objecting to the decision of separation. This will save their time as they won’t have to go to many court hearings.

It saves time and does not stress out separating couples.

Positive Co-parenting

The no-fault divorce UK law will greatly benefit parents with children. Previously, couples had to make an allegation of their spouse which resulted in increased animosity — something that affects the children negatively.

However, the new law will allow ex-partners to form a positive relationship as co-parents. It will make child residence and contact easier as well. It will also have a positive impact on the parenting plan.

Quicker Proceedings

With the new law, most couples will only have to wait six months before finalising their divorce. The six months period is sufficient for them to reconsider their relationship. 

Common Questions About No-Fault Divorce

Since the government has reformed the divorce law after 50 years, it is natural to have concerns about the no-fault divorce system. Here are the answers to some common questions about no-fault divorce UK.

Will There Be a Waiting Period Before We Can File for Divorce?

The legal implementation is on hold due to the COVID pandemic. But it is assumed that the couples will have to wait for six months before they can file a divorce. 

This means that before filing a divorce, the couples have to live separately for half a year before the court considers their divorce application.

Can You File a No-Fault Divorce Online?

Yes, you can file the no-fault online with the consent of both parties. There isn’t an option to wait for two years before filing a divorce, and your partner cannot object to the divorce anymore. 

With a true no-fault divorce, either party can file a divorce, and no one can object to the decision.

Will There Be Any Changes to the Court Fees for a Divorce?

If you file a divorce at present, you will have to pay the court for the administrative cost. The fee is around £550. However, some people are entitled to a discount, while some are exempted from a court fee for divorce.

The new divorce law will simplify the process, so you may assume that it will cost less. As of yet though, nothing is proposed regarding reductions in the fee. 

Although it seems fair to adjust the administrative costs of the court, it is doubtful whether there will be a change in the cost. 

Will Spouses Be Able to Make Joint No-Fault Divorce Applications?

There isn’t a confirmation for joint applications, but several reports indicate that the new law will have a procedure for couples to file a joint divorce. 

Since the new law aims to reduce conflict between couples, it seems like a possibility to issue a joint divorce.

Should I Wait for the Law to Change before Filing for Divorce?

Since the new no-fault divorce law will be implemented from April 2022, it is wise for you to start the proceedings now if you have decided to seek separation from your partner.

Many divorces go without having significant problems if both the parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  Others find the strain of putting the blame on each other too much. In some cases, it may be too long for the couple to wait until the law is implemented. 

The actual process of the no-fault divorce UK law will be applicable in April 2022. If a couple has been separated for a long time, for example, two years, it is wise to file a divorce right away.

How Will You Benefit from the New Law if You Wait to File a Divorce?

You may prefer to wait for the no-fault divorce under some circumstances. For example, if you have serious reasons for divorce, such as adultery, but your partner objects to filing a divorce, then it is wise for you to wait for the no-fault divorce. This way, your partner cannot challenge your application, and this will reduce the stress as well as the cost of court proceedings. 

You could also wait for the no-fault divorce UK law to be implemented if you want to file a divorce, but you do not have acceptable reasons, like adultery, and you just grew apart. If your partner does not want a divorce, you will have to wait five years before you separate ways. In this case, you can wait for the no-fault divorce law to be implemented as it may quicken the divorce process.

Another situation where you should also wait for the law to be implemented is if you have been separated from your partner for five years, but you know that your partner will object to the divorce.

One of the few reasons for challenging a divorce application includes grave financial hardships. Under such circumstances, you should wait for the new law to be implemented for quicker and smoother proceedings. 

How Long Does A No-Fault Divorce Process Take?

The new divorce law will simplify the process of filing a divorce. It may not be instant divorce, but it will remove various delays, such as the requirements for the two-year separation period. 

The new law will require a minimum of 20 weeks between filing an initial application and receiving a conditional order. 

There may be an additional six weeks between the court’s conditional and final order. It means that the minimum time to get a divorce will have a six-month completion period which is way less than the previous waiting period. 

These six months provide the couple with sufficient time to go over their decision. It also helps the partners to discuss settlements such as finances and co-parenting plans. 

This way, the no-fault divorce will speed up the procedure by simplifying the basics of filing for a divorce. 

Get In Touch With Our No-Fault Divorce Lawyers

Even with a quick divorce process, many couples find it difficult to go over divorce settlements such as finances and childcare. This is where you require expert advice for legal settlements.

Do you want advice about a divorce, separation, or civil partnership dissolution? For tailored legal advice, you can contact us or request a free callback from our experts.

Our skilled and experienced experts will provide you with top-notch advice regarding no-fault divorce and associated court proceedings. They can guide you through the no-fault divorce law and provide you with insight into how the divorce process could become easier for you. 

Articles by Our Family Law Divorce Experts 

Here are some more articles related to divorce from our family law divorce experts, covering topics like how to find a divorce lawyer, how to apply for a divorce and how long does a divorce take.

Austin Kemp specialise in divorce, and have years of experience delivering the results our clients want. We have offices throughout the UK, including London solicitors, Manchester solicitors, Leeds solicitors, Huddersfield solicitors and more. Contact our family law solicitors today to see how we can help you.

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28th February 2022

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