Jen Law, who is a divorce solicitor in Bideford, looks at whether you need a lawyer to deal with ‘no fault’ divorce.
April 2022 saw the introduction of the long-awaited “no fault” divorce system. Although long overdue and, as usual, having taken many years to push through Parliament, this is one of the most sensible and cost-effective changes in the law in recent years.
Under the new system there is no longer any need to find fault with your spouse by way of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery to warrant a divorce. Nor is there any need to have separated for a particular length of time before you can start divorce proceedings. These reforms have been a huge source of relief to a lot of separating couples. Not only have they simplified the process, but they have also made it less confrontational and divisive. To some extent the changes have made getting a divorce less stressful, though it is always an emotional time and you should ensure you access as much support as possible.
Under the new ‘no fault’ rules all you now have to be sure of in order to issue divorce proceedings, is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down and that there is no chance of a reconciliation. You and your ex-spouse can issue a joint application, or you can issue a single application.
Once you formally submit the online application, your ex-spouse needs to complete the acknowledgement of service, the same as it was under the old system. They should do that as soon as possible as once the court receives the acknowledgement of service, the new 20 week time limit starts.
The new timescale means that you have to wait 20 weeks before applying for the first stage of the divorce, newly named the conditional order (previously the Decree Nisi). You cannot submit any financial settlement agreement to the court for approval until the conditional order has been processed by the court.
As with the old system, there is then a wait of six weeks from the grant of conditional order before you can finalise your divorce with the final order (previously the Decree Absolute).
While solicitors can access the new application for divorce online for you, there really is no need as it is as straightforward as applying online for your car tax or renewing your television licence. We believe that your money is better spent on specialist advice in relation to finalising your financial ties to your ex-spouse. More information can be found on how we can assist with disputes over finances in divorce here.
Jen Law, is a divorce solicitor in Bideford who specialises in resolving financial disputes following separation and divorce.