No-Fault Divorce UK – Expert Advice


No Fault Divorce April 2022

UK divorce laws changed on April 6 2022 by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. It’s a significant change because you can’t any longer blame your spouse or civil partner for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage, based on adultery, behaviour or desertion. You can only argue on the basis that the courts in this country do not have jurisdiction to entertain the divorce application or that the marriage was in the prohibited degrees of relationship and therefore invalid.

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What is No-fault Divorce UK?

The term “no-fault divorce” is therefore used to describe the new divorce legislation. Rather than having to demonstrate your spouse or civil partner has committed adultery, been unjust, or deserted you, all you need to say in the divorce application is that you believe the marriage has broken down irretrievably. 

Applying for a No-fault Divorce

It has become a lot simpler to file for a divorce application under the new divorce law. To request a no-fault divorce, you must submit a divorce application online if you have instructed family solicitors and declare that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

Unlike prior divorce procedures, you are not required to offer reasons for the breakdown of your marriage. London divorce attorneys consider this a significant step forward, since many separations that began pleasantly enough evolved into contentious issues regarding whether the new relationship had ended the marriage or years of unreasonable conduct that had caused adultery. It was a frequent debate, with one spouse claiming they would not have fallen in love had it not been for their partner’s actions, so they argued that adultery wouldn’t have occurred but for the behaviour.

The procedure for obtaining a divorce has evolved dramatically as well. A husband or wife used to file a divorce petition,9 now called a divorce application),  and the other would respond under the old divorce process. However, now, if you’re thinking about pursuing a no-fault divorce, you have three alternatives:

  • You can apply together for a no-fault divorce with your husband or wife or civil partner or
  • You can apply as a single applicant for a no-fault divorce.

If you and your spouse apply for a divorce together, you are referred to as applicant 1 while your spouse is called applicant 2. If you are applying as a sole applicant, then you are referred to as the applicant, and your husband or wife or civil partner is known as the respondent.

The No-fault Divorce Four-stage Court Process

The no-fault divorce procedure has drawn a large number of requests from divorce solicitors. It may be divided into four phases:

  1. For example, you and your spouse may both submit applications for divorce; they can be joint or single. There is then a 20-week wait under court regulations between the commencement of the divorcee and the conditional order (previously known as a decree nisi).
  2. After the conditional order, there is a 6 week and one-day wait (during which period the parties can attempt a reconciliation) after which the applicant can apply for a final order ( previously known as decree absolute), so the whole process takes about 26 weeks ( 6 months)  to complete. 

Of course, if the respondent ( the other party) lives abroad then the Court will not serve the divorce application and it could take much longer than 6 months as the divorce documents will either have to be served via the Foreign  Process Section of the High Court Queens Bench Division, under the Hague Convention for example or by post again under the auspices of the High court or by way of solicitors service instructing a lawyer in a foreign country or a process server there. 

Also read: Can Foreign Nationals Divorce in the UK?

Is a No-fault Divorce The Same as a Quickie Divorce?

According to divorce lawyers London, the no-fault divorce legislation is welcomed, as it makes the divorce process less rancorous, allowing you to focus on agreeing on parenting arrangements or on reaching a financial settlement.

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No-fault Divorce UK and Child Custody and Contact

The shift in divorce legislation does not affect children’s law; it could make child arrangements after divorce however less difficult for parents to agree on. That is because parents no longer have to point the finger of blame at their spouse in order to obtain a divorce, which may cause them to get sidetracked into an unpleasant breakup.

If you and your former spouse can’t agree on where your children will live and communicate, either of you may still request a child arrangement order from the court to describe their living and contact conditions.

You can still make unreasonable conduct allegations in children’s law and child arrangement order applications if the charges are relevant, even if you’ve had a no-fault divorce. For example, if there was domestic violence in the relationship and you’re concerned about your partner’s temperament when they’re on their own because they have anger management difficulties.

No-fault Divorce and Financial Court Orders

The new no-fault divorce procedure does not alter the way you obtain a financial court order. The following is how it works:

  • If you can reach a financial agreement by mutual consent, you may both ask the Court to approve a financial order which can be by consent.
  • If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on a financial solution, you or one of you may file for court relief. The Court will publish the financial application for a first directions appointment, as well as orders for standard finance disclosure, for a financial remedy order if one of you cannot reach a financial settlement by agreement. The Court can order further disclosure and valuing of assets. There is a financial settlement hearing afterwards to persuade you and your ex-spouse to settle your account in an agreement. If you are unable to reach a financial arrangement, there is also a third hearing, known as the ultimate hearing, where the judge determines the financial settlement and issues a financial court order.

The amount you may receive as a financial settlement should not be affected by the fact that you are using the no-fault divorce procedure. Because, even before the divorce law changed, the practice was seldom a consideration in terms of amount or type of financial agreement. Other factors, on the other hand, were and continue to be crucial, such as whether you have children under the age of eighteen, how long your marriage has lasted, your standard of living during your marriage, and your earning potential.

In conclusion, the no-fault divorce process is preferable for the majority of divorcing couples, however, there are no changes to child law or economic settlement procedure. The process is still adversarial in the sense that you are trying to prove to the court why you should have custody or more money, but it is less so than before when one person had to be at fault for the marriage to end. This article has been simplified for easy understanding. For detailed legal advice, please consult our divorce solicitors London.

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