No-Fault Divorce

Getting a divorce or civil partnership dissolution is about to become easier. From 6th April 2022, ‘no-fault divorce’ will be introduced, allowing people to apply for divorce without having to place blame for the relationship breakdown.

Getting a divorce is a stressful experience at the best of times, but it can become particularly combative when disputes arise over ‘who did what’ and ‘whose fault’ the relationship breakdown is.

Our Family Law specialist, Ismotara Begum, is a member of Resolution and has always specialised in helping people find the most positive solution to their issues. In most cases, our combination of practical legal advice and negotiation skills allows people to get through the process with minimal stress (which also helps them save on costs).

However, the way divorce law currently works means that it is impossible to get a divorce without placing some level of blame. This is because to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, the law forces you to rely on one or more of the five ‘facts’, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

We understand that this causes heartache for a lot of our clients, even though in most cases the reasons for divorce do not impact the actual outcome.

Fortunately, the law is about to change and you will no longer need to rely on the five facts to prove irretrievable breakdown.

We can provide all the advice you need about getting a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, including simple, straightforward advice about no-fault divorce. With local offices in Hoddesdon and Broxbourne, we work with clients from across Hertfordshire, as well as a growing number of clients elsewhere in England, Wales and abroad.

Our team are also happy to speak over the phone, via email or through videoconferencing for your safety and convenience.

For a friendly, informal discussion about how our family lawyer can help you with no-fault divorce, please get in touch:

How we can help you with no-fault divorce

If you are thinking about getting a divorce or dissolution, there are many things you need to think about. One of those questions may be, should you get a divorce now or wait until no-fault divorce comes in?

Our specialist family law solicitor can talk you through your options and help you find a way forward. We can handle the divorce application on your behalf, ensuring that all the details are completed to the highest degree of accuracy.

We will treat your matter with care and respect, putting your needs and the needs of your children first at all times. Our goal will be to help you start moving towards your future with confidence.

For general information about how the process works and our approach to helping clients with divorce, visit our Divorce, Separation & Finances page.

Our divorce pricing

Fixed fee divorce

We can offer fixed fees for many parts of the divorce process. The divorce application stage can usually be entirely dealt with within our fixed fees, so you can always know where you stand on costs.

We also offer an initial consultation for £75 plus VAT during which our family lawyer will talk about the process, including no-fault divorce, and give you an indication of the work needed going forwards.

Hourly rates for divorce settlement advice

For more complex work, we will typically work to an agreed hourly rate. We will always provide a realistic costs estimate and keep you fully informed about the work that needs doing, so you stay in control of your overall spend.

No-fault divorce FAQs

Why is divorce law changing?

Divorce law has stayed mostly unchanged since the 1970s and many people argue that it now out of date.

To get a divorce under the existing law, you must prove that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. To do this, you must rely on one or more of the five facts in your divorce petition:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Separation for at least two years where both parties consent
  • Separation for at least five years, no consent needed
  • Desertion for at least two years

Unless you want to wait at least two years for a divorce, one party must place the blame for the divorce on the other party – i.e. either ‘you cheated on me’ or ‘you acted so badly during our relationship that I can no longer be expected to live with you’.

However, for many couples, this does not reflect the reality. What about couples who fall out of love, drift apart or start wanting different things in life? The relationship breakdown is no one’s fault, but someone must place blame anyway.

It also means that if your partner objects to the divorce, you can be dragged to court and may even be denied one altogether, trapping you in a loveless marriage until you can rely on the five year separation fact.

This unfairness was recently reflected in the high-profile case of Owens v Owens. Tini Owens was not allowed to get a divorce from her husband of 40 years because she could not prove her grounds for divorce.

What is no-fault divorce?

In 2020, the government passed a law to end the ‘blame game’ of the current divorce law. From 6th April 2022, ‘no-fault divorce’ will allow couples to simply say ‘my marriage has irretrievably broken down’. There will be no need to rely on reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour to prove that you should be allowed a divorce.

The government states, ‘These new laws will stop separating couples having to make needless allegations against one another, and instead help them focus on resolving their issues amicably.’

By reducing any risk for conflict over the reasons for divorce, couples may be able to talk about issues such as the division of finances or co-parenting arrangements in a more cooperative way.

It also means that parties will no longer be able to object to a divorce application and drag their partner to court (except in very narrow cases such as fraud).

How will no-fault divorce work?

The new law will:

  • Keep the sole ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship.
  • Abolish the five ‘facts’. Instead, couples will just need to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
  • Allow couples to make a ‘joint petition’ (currently, only one party is allowed to submit a petition).
  • Introduce a new minimum period of 20 weeks between the start of the divorce proceedings and when a conditional order (currently decree nisi) can be made.
  • Remove the ability to object to the divorce other than in certain cases, such as fraudulent divorce applications.
  • Change some of the divorce terminology, including:
    • Divorce petition – divorce applications
    • Petitioner – applicant
    • Decree nisi – conditional order
    • Decree absolute – final order

Is the new divorce law in force now?

No, the new law will come into force on 6th April 2022.

Should I wait for no-fault divorce to come into force?

For most couples, there is probably no point in waiting for no-fault divorce to come in. If separation is right for you and your family, waiting to start the divorce only means it will take longer to finish the process. If you and your partner are both on the same page and neither objects, the courts will not usually question the reasons you put on the petition and will allow the divorce anyway.

However, you may want to think about waiting if:

  • Your partner has told you they do not want a divorce and will contest your application and you do not want to go to court.
  • You feel strongly about not placing blame and want to wait until you can submit a joint petition.
  • You are not 100% sure about getting a divorce and want a period of trial separation first anyway.

If you are unsure, contact our no-fault divorce solicitor for advice.

Does no-fault divorce mean I won’t have to go to court?

It is unlikely you would need to go to court in relation to the divorce application. However, no-fault divorce does not guarantee that you will avoid court. Sometimes, couples need to go to court to sort out financial arrangements or arrangements for children.

That being said, the vast majority of couples do not need to go to court. Our specialist family lawyer is a member of Resolution and specialises in helping couples find amicable out-of-court solutions wherever possible. As well as having a high level of negotiation skills, we can refer you to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods if it would suit you.

Will no-fault divorce affect civil partnership dissolution?

Yes. No-fault civil partnership dissolution will also be covered by the new law.

No-fault civil partnership dissolution will allow you to apply for a dissolution without having to put reasons on the application, except that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.

Speak with our no-fault divorce solicitor in Hoddesdon & Broxbourne

For a friendly, informal discussion about how our family lawyer can help you get a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, please get in touch.

 

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