How to apply for a no fault divorce

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The breakdown of a marriage is never easy, and playing the “blame game” in divorce proceedings will ultimately lead to more stress and animosity between divorcing couples. Until April 2022, parties to a divorce were required to assign blame to a party when applying for a divorce.

A no fault divorce is a type of divorce where neither spouse has to prove that the other is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, one or both spouses can simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and the divorce can proceed without the need to provide evidence of unreasonable behaviour, adultery, or desertion. This type of divorce is currently available in England and Wales.

Expert Family Law will discuss below, the introduction of no fault divorces, the benefits of the divorce law changes and how to apply for a no fault divorce.

The introduction of no fault divorces

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was passed by the UK Parliament and received Royal Assent on June 25, 2020. This Act introduced a new no-fault divorce system in England and Wales, which allows married couples to apply for a divorce without having to prove fault. Under this Act, no fault divorces were introduced in April 2022.

In addition to this, couples now have the ability to make a joint application for a divorce, and the opportunity to contest a divorce has now been removed in most circumstances.

The Act also introduced a minimum timeframe of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to the granting of the decree nisi, and a minimum timeframe of 6 months between the grant of the decree nisi and the final decree of divorce. The aim of the Act is to modernise and simplify the divorce process, and to reduce conflict and acrimony between separating couples.

How to apply for a no fault divorce

Applying for a divorce is now more streamlined than ever, and many are now applying for divorce online. If you are wondering how to apply for a no fault divorce, the information below will be of great use.

To apply for a no fault divorce in England and Wales, you can follow these steps:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements: You or your spouse must have been living in England or Wales for at least a year, and you must have a marriage that is legally recognised in the UK. You must have been married for at least 12 months.
  • Submit a divorce application: You can apply for a no fault divorce, either as a joint or sole applicant, by selecting the ground of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” which does not require proof of fault.
  • File a divorce petition: You will need to complete a divorce petition and submit it to the court, along with the appropriate court fee.
  • 20 week reflection period
  • Apply for a Conditional Order: Once the court is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, they will issue a Conditional Order (previously known as a Decree Nisi) which sets a date for the divorce to be finalised.
  • Six week cooling off period: Your Financial Order should be submitted during this period.
  • Apply for a Final Order: After a minimum of six weeks and one day has passed since the Conditional Order, you can apply for a Final Order (previously known as a Decree Absolute), which officially ends the marriage.

It’s a good idea to seek legal advice if you are unsure about any part of the process or if your situation is particularly complex.

The benefits of obtaining a no fault divorce

There are several benefits to a no fault divorce, including:

  • Reduced conflict: A no fault divorce can help reduce conflict between the spouses, as it eliminates the need to prove fault and assign blame for the breakdown of the marriage. This can make the divorce process less acrimonious and reduce stress and tension for all involved, particularly if there are children.
  • Faster and less costly: A no fault divorce can be faster and less expensive than a traditional fault-based divorce, as it eliminates the need for a trial or lengthy court proceedings to establish fault. This can also make the process less complicated and more straightforward.
  • More amicable and cooperative: A no fault divorce can encourage a more cooperative and amicable approach to divorce, as both spouses can focus on resolving practical issues such as child custody, division of assets, and financial support, rather than arguing over who is to blame for the end of the marriage.
  • Greater privacy: A no fault divorce can offer greater privacy for both spouses, as the reasons for the divorce do not have to be made public or discussed in court.

Overall, a no fault divorce can provide a more peaceful and dignified way to end a marriage, and can be particularly beneficial for couples who want to maintain a good relationship after the divorce, especially if they have children.

How can Expert Family Law’s panel of divorce solicitors help?

We ensure that the divorce solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your no fault divorce will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

The solicitors on our panel can assist you through the process of divorce, including the application, as well as assisting you with child arrangements, financial settlements and ancillary relief following the termination of your marriage.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a divorce solicitor from our panel could help on your case.


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