A huge change is coming to divorce law on 6 April 2022 – no fault divorce. Should you start your divorce under the existing procedure or should you wait until the new regime? Make sure to seek advice from an experienced family lawyer.
On 6 April the law on divorce changes. No longer will you need to rely on adultery or unreasonable behaviour or 2 years separation etc. Either – or both of you – can start the divorce on the basis that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
I WANT TO BLAME MY WIFE
If this is the case you’ll need to get your petition into the Court (either online or by post) by 4pm on 31 March.
However please check with an experienced family lawyer. It’s very unusual for bad behaviour to be crucial to a divorce, and it’s rarely relevant to financial settlements. Apportioning blame can cause bad feeling. This is something you might want to avoid – especially if you need to make decisions together about your children or your finances or your living arrangements.
You may have noticed there’s a gap between 31 March and 6 April. This is because the Court service will be updating with the new procedure. If you need to lodge a divorce during this period; eg to make an application to freeze your spouse’s assets, this is possible but please seek legal advice.
WILL NO FAULT DIVORCE TAKE LONGER
Possibly. After lodging your application you will have to wait 20 weeks before you can apply for the conditional order (formerly the decree nisi). This won’t bring your marriage to an end but it means you can apply for the final order after a further 6 weeks; ie a minimum of 26 weeks in total from start to end. Often divorces take much longer as it’s wise to sort out the finances before applying for the decree absolute (soon to be called the final order).
The 20 week delay provides a cooling off period and a good opportunity to consider the following –
- the arrangements for the children
- where they will live
- how often they will see their absent parent
- how they will be supported financially
- the finances
- what will happen to the family home
- how will pensions, savings etc be divided
- will maintenance be paid
If it’s difficult to reach an agreement, perhaps it’s time to try mediation, collaborative law, or arbitration.
WILL NO FAULT DIVORCE AFFECT FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS
This is the subject of our next blog.
IS NO FAULT DIVORCE A GOOD THING
Some commentators claim no fault divorce will –
- allow people to end their marriages for no reason. But if someone wants out of their marriage, who would want to keep them in it?
- deprive spouses of the opportunity to apportion blame in order to get a greater share of the finances. But it’s extremely unusual for behaviour to influence the outcome of finances. Matrimonial finances are decided on questions of finances and need, not who did what
- rush couples into a divorce before they’ve had the time to reflect on their financial situation and the arrangements for the children. But the 26 week period is not mandatory, it’s a minimum. The consideration of financial arrangements and arrangements for the children has always proceeded in parallel to divorce proceedings
- be unfair as there’s no way of opposing the divorce. Again, who wants to force someone to stay married when they want out?
Perhaps there will be unintended consequences – only time will tell.
THE BENEFITS OF NO FAULT DIVORCE
There are many benefits to no fault divorce –
- spouses can apply individually, or couples can apply jointly for a divorce, without apportioning blame
- it’s one less thing to fall out about. Agreeing the finances, the house, the pensions can be stressful enough
- the reduction in parental stress and acrimony will benefit the children
- the stigma of divorce will recede because no longer will one party be viewed as at fault
- under the current system it’s possible for one spouse to hold another spouse to ransom by making them wait 5 years for a divorce
Across the globe, many countries now have no fault divorce – including Australia and Canada.
NO FAULT DIVORCE – YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on No fault divorce – Your Questions Answered. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.
JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.
The topics covered in this blog post No fault divorce – Your Questions Answered are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice. This is an evolving area of the law and is current at the date of publication.
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