When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UKThe Government has announced it will legislate for no-fault divorce as soon as parliamentary time allows. If you are keen to start your divorce and not sure whether to wait until the law changes, speak to an expert family lawyer.

What is no-fault divorce?

This is a way of getting divorced without raising conflict. Currently you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Allegations of adultery and unreasonable behaviour raise tensions, and if the divorce is contested, the only option can be to wait five years. The most amicable solution at the moment is two years separation with consent. No-fault divorce means the marriage has broken down but no one is in the wrong, and you don’t have to wait for years.

Why has the Government decided to act?

Resolution and other organisations have been lobbying. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news. Mrs Owens said her marriage was over because of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. But he contested the divorce and she is now in the process of waiting five years to reach the end of her unhappy marriage.

Why is no-fault divorce a good idea?

Joanne Houston of Just Family Law says no-fault divorce will reduce conflict in divorce and protect children. She adds, “This presents an opportunity for parting couples to engage in a constructive rather than a destructive process.” Joanne is a specialist in collaborative family law which allows couples to reach amicable agreements, avoid Court proceedings, and move forward with dignity and positivity. See my post, What is collaborative family law. Other options are –

How will no-fault divorce work?

The details have yet to be fully formulated but there will be a minimum time from start to finish of six months. There will still be a decree nisi and decree absolute stage. See my recent post How to file for divorce for a basic guide to divorce under the current law.

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement.

When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK?

 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 Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post When will no-fault divorce begin in the UK? 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.

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How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK

How to File for Divorce in the UK …

The bad news is your marriage or civil partnership is over. But the good news is it’s now a lot simpler to get divorced thanks to the online system. I’m going to explain what you need to look out for and what it all means.

There’s rarely any need to attend Court and the whole process takes only four to six months but this doesn’t include the finances and and it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until they’re sorted out.

But if you would rather a lawyer do the divorce for you make sure you chose one who is committed to a non confrontational approach to family problems, such as Just Family Law’s Joanne Houston.

How a divorce starts …

One of you fills in a divorce petition (the petitioner) and the Court serves it on the other (the respondent).

What a divorce does …

It ends a marriage or a civil partnership but it doesn’t sort out the finances or the arrangements for the children.

Take the bull by the horns …

Did you know that divorce, finances and the arrangements for the children can all be addressed at the same time? See my blog What comes first, divorce or settlement?

If you can’t agree between yourselves you have the following options:

  • Help from a lawyer
  • Start Court proceedings yourself
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law

Collaborative law is an opportunity to build a positive future for you and your family. See my recent blog What is collaborative law?

What’s needed to start a divorce …

  • Marriage certificate
  • Court fee of £550 unless you’re eligible to exemption from fees
  • The respondent’s address

Here’s a link to an application form to help with Court fees

How to fill in the divorce petition …

The online divorce service is on the GOV.UK site, here’s a link

It’s straightforward to fill in but there are some tricky questions. For example if you weren’t born in either England or Wales or if you live in another country. Or if you don’t know the respondent’s address. There are notes to help you but don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

The grounds for divorce …

The most popular is unreasonable behaviour. The least contentious is two year’s separation with consent. See my blog, Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Financial claims …

The form asks, “Do you want to apply for a financial order?” To be on the safe side tick Yes as the Court will take no action but it will leave it open for the future. Don’t risk missing out on pensions or the business or being left with debts that aren’t yours. And a Consent Order recording your financial settlement is essential to protect you.

Don’t forget to get expert help if you’re not sure. Lawyers often provide fixed cost advice for this kind of service.

Costs …

How to answer, “Costs – if you wish to claim costs from the respondent.” There are a number of things to bear in mind:

  • the expense of the Court fee to start a divorce which is currently £550
  • the availability of exemption from fees (see above “What’s needed to start a divorce”)
  • whether the respondent can afford to pay a costs order
  • the likelihood of the Court making a costs order

If you aren’t eligible to exemption from fees, and the respondent can afford to pay a costs order, see if the respondent will agree to pay or at least contribute.

Risks …

The respondent defends the petition. See my blog No fault divorce, your questions answered about the Owens case and the risk of the respondent defending an unreasonable behaviour petition.

What happens next …

The Court serves your divorce petition on the respondent and they acknowledge service of it, which means they fill in a form saying they’ve received the petition. Once you receive the acknowledgment of service from the Court you can fill in a statement in support.

Next the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi. You don’t have to attend Court for this.

The decree nisi …

Your marriage isn’t over yet but it’s an important stage if you are sorting out financial matters as a Consent Order recording your settlement can now be sealed by the Court.

Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the decree nisi the petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. But there are pros and cons. Should you wait until you have obtained a Court order confirming the financial arrangements between you? See my blog Quick divorce or safe divorce? How to protect your financial settlement

The decree absolute …

  • You are no longer married
  • You can remarry or enter a civil partnership
  • Your consent order about the finances comes into force

How to File for Divorce in the UK

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to File for Divorce in the UK. 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 Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs. 

The topics covered in this blog post How to File for Divorce in the UK 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.

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Good Divorce Week – Is Divorce Bad for Children?

Good Divorce Week

What is Good Divorce Week?

Good Divorce Week 2018 (26 November onwards) is promoted by an organisation of family lawyers, Resolution, to help reduce conflict in divorce.

What does Resolution hope to achieve with Good Divorce Week?

Resolution wants to highlight the damage caused to children by conflict in divorce. Research has shown it’s not the separation or divorce itself but the conflict arising during the process.

But isn’t conflict inevitable?

No, not if parents remain amicable and communicate calmly and effectively with each other and the children. But sadly conflict does indeed often arise because parents have to rely on “fault” when they divorce for example unreasonable behaviour or adultery. Resolution has discovered that almost three quarters of the population agree that No Fault Divorce would protect the long-term interests of children.

How can parents avoid harm to children?

It is without doubt possible to minimise damage to children and statistics show that half of divorcing parents successfully put their children’s needs first. Furthermore eighty two percent of children in a Resolution survey said they would prefer their parents to part if they were unhappy. Children do not want to live in conflict and uncertainty any more than grown ups.

To bring the marriage to a positive but final end collaborative law and mediation are recommended.  Collaborative law is a particularly effective way to reduce conflict and promote the best interests of the family as a whole.

Read my blog 8 Tips on Arrangements for Children after Separation

There are even apps out there to help you co-parent.

Is divorce bad for Children?

Sadly it can be. In surveys children report:

  • they felt left out of the process
  • had no say where they lived
  • felt they had to choose between parents
  • had no understanding what was going on
  • felt it was all their fault
  • didn’t get good exam results as a result
  • got into trouble at school
  • drank alcohol and considered taking drugs

How about parental alienation?

Yes, there’s that too:

  • a third of children report one parent tried to turn them against the other parent
  • almost a fifth said they lost touch with their grandparents.

If you are a grandparent in this heartbreaking situation please see my blog Do Grandparents Have Rights? Practical Steps to Seeing Your Grandchildren Again

What’s the answer?

Parents must put their children’s needs first and try their best to avoid conflict. Collaborative law could be the way forward for you.

How can we have a good divorce?

The answer is No Fault Divorce. If blame were removed from the divorce process it would undoubtedly make it easier for parents to remain amicable.

What is no fault divorce?

The Government is currently considering whether divorce should simply be on the ground of irretrievable breakdown with no need to mention reasons. See my blog No Fault Divorce – Your Questions Answered 

I support no fault divorce, what can I do?

If you would like to join Resolution’s campaign follow this link to:

  • write to your MP
  • mug up on all the facts and figures
  • use your social media profile to help

Good divorce week – is divorce bad for children?

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on any of the issues raised in this blog. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

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No Fault Divorce – Your Questions Answered

No Fault DivorceWhy is no fault divorce in the news?

The Government is considering no fault divorce because our current system isn’t working well. If you want to divorce you have to rely on a reason:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Desertion
  • Five years separation without consent

Unsure which reason to rely on? See my blog Grounds for divorce – 5 things you need to know

Why has the Government decided to look at no fault divorce?

Resolution (an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes) has been lobbying for no fault divorce for years. And the case of Owens v Owens has been in the news.

What is Owens v Owens about?

Mrs Owens wants to divorce her husband. She gave twenty seven examples of his unreasonable behaviour: he is moody, argumentative and disparaging. But he defended the divorce saying the marriage wasn’t over, and he disputed the behaviour his wife had mentioned.

The Judge disagreed with Mr Owens – the marriage was clearly over – but he said the examples of behaviour were flimsy and exaggerated and Mrs Owens could not have her divorce. This meant she would have to stay married to Mr Owens. She appealed.

What happened when Mrs Owens appealed?

On 25 July 2018 the Supreme Court said the Judge was right when he said her reasons weren’t good enough. But the Supreme Court also said it felt “uneasy” and that “Parliament may wish to consider whether to replace a law which denies to Mrs Owens … a divorce”.

What’s the solution for Mrs Owens?

She will have to stay married to Mr Owens until they have lived apart for five years.

What is the Government doing? 

The Ministry of Justice has published a consultation paper, Reform of the legal requirements for divorce. They are asking whether divorce should simply be on the ground of irretrievable breakdown with no need to mention reasons. And whether the ability to ‘defend’ a divorce should end. The consultation closes 10 December.

Why is no fault divorce a good idea?

  • Angry spouses won’t be able to block divorces
  • People won’t have to stay married when they don’t want to
  • There will be less conflict
  • Couples will be able to concentrate on what is best for the children
  • They will be more likely to reach an amicable agreement about the finances, by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law
  • Our current divorce system dates to 1969. We live in a very different society and women are seen as equal partners in a marriage
  • Legal bills will be lower
  • There will be fewer contested divorces. Our Courts are stretched and so this might make everything a bit better for all of us

Is no fault divorce going to make more people divorce?

The breakdown of a relationship is hard enough as it is without the Court procedure adding to the difficulties. And in reality couples often agree how to word their divorces. “I’ll admit to adultery,” or “You can mention that unreasonable behaviour.”

Why is divorce an important stage in agreeing the finances? 

A Court order finalising the finances is only available once the first divorce decree has been granted (the “decree nisi”). Hence it’s a good idea to sort out the divorce and the finances at the same time. See my blog What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

Can I do the divorce myself? 

Yes. But if you are struggling read my blog 10 reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petition

No Fault Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on any of the issues raised in this blog. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

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What comes first divorce or settlement?

What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement

What comes first divorce or settlement

The answer is they should be going on at the same time. But it’s often wise to delay finalising the divorce until the finances have been sorted out. Why? Because if your other half dies after the divorce but before you have a Court order confirming the financial settlement, you could lose out as their widow or widower. And you could miss out on a fair share of their pension. Is this something that particularly concerns you? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

How much will the divorce cost

The Court fee is £550.

Need help with the Court forms? A “pay as you go” deal is the answer. This means you ask a solicitor for advice when needed, and limit the expense. But if you hand your divorce over to a solicitor, make sure you know how much they’re going to charge. Can you do the divorce yourself? See below.

What are the grounds for divorce

“Irretrievable breakdown” – and you have to rely on one of five reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent

Unsure which to go for? For more details see my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know.

Can I do the divorce myself, or do I need a solicitor

Yes you can do it yourself.

But don’t be afraid to ask for help to avoid mistakes being made on the papers (and the Court sending them back). See my blog 10 Reasons why you need a family law solicitor to check your DIY divorce petitionA common problem is service, or forgetting to tick an important box, or failing to grapple with legal definitions of residence – a complication if you’re an international family.

A solicitor can also help if your other half is not acknowledging the proceedings.

How long does it take

Usually about four months but there can be pitfalls – see above.

How is the divorce settlement worked out

The starting point is equal division. But various factors are taken into account including:

  • The children’s welfare
  • Income and earning capacity
  • Financial needs
  • Standard of living
  • Your ages, and length of the marriage
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Contributions to the marriage

It’s an idea to ask an experienced family law solicitor for advice if there are:

Do I have to disclose my finances

See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce – 10 things you need to know.

Do I need a consent order

It’s a good idea. Because if one of you changes your mind, or if one of you comes into money, there’s no going back for a second bite of the cherry. And it’s relatively simple for a solicitor to draw one up. See my blog How do I get a consent order?

What comes first divorce or settlement

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for advice about What Comes First Divorce Or Settlement? In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

 

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Grounds for Divorce – 5 Things You Need To Know

GroundsForDivorceThink you may have grounds for divorce? There are five reasons for the breakdown of marriage or civil partnership you can rely on:

1. Adultery 
2. Unreasonable Behaviour  
3. Desertion 
4. Two Years Separation With Consent 
5. Five Years Separation Without consent

But read on because there are different rules for each reason …

1. Adultery

Adultery is sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.

If you are still living together, make sure you start your divorce or dissolution within six months of discovering the adultery. The third party (the “co-respondent”) is rarely named as little can be achieved.

Controversially adultery can only be with a member of the opposite sex. If you are in a same sex marriage or civil partnership, you will have to rely on unreasonable behaviour instead.

2. Unreasonable Behaviour

This is behaviour which you think is unreasonable. This can be very serious behaviour such as violence or other form of domestic abuse. Or it might be that your other half shows no interest in you, is unsupportive, or spends all their time at work.

But please take care. In the unlikely event your other half defends the divorce there can be problems if the Court doesn’t consider the behaviour serious enough. If you have any doubts at all take expert legal advice. See our post “Why You Need A Family Lawyer To Check Your DIY Divorce Petition”.

Timing is important. The unreasonable behaviour needs to have been within the last six months if you are still living together. Or perhaps the behaviour is continuing? In which case, timing is not a problem.

3. Desertion

A rarely used ground. Desertion is when your other half leaves you for two years without your agreement, and for no good reason other than to end the relationship. This doesn’t have to be a continuous period but must be within the last two and a half years. Up to six months of resumed living together doesn’t count.

4. Two Years Separation with Consent

Here there’s no blame. But patience is required as you will need to live apart for two years. You also need to know that your other half will definitely sign to say they agree to the divorce.

5. Five Years Separation without Consent

Another rarely used ground. If you have lived apart for five years and your other half doesn’t agree to a divorce, this is the reason you can rely on.

Contact Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on the grounds for divorce. In this 20 minute session we will:

  • Discuss with you what’s been going wrong
  • Advise you of the most suitable wording for your divorce petition
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JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

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12 Things You Need To Know About “The Blame Game” – Fault or No Fault Divorce

1.    Divorce is never easy but if it can be amicable that’s best for you and best for the children. So the last thing you need is to fall out over the divorce petition. Whoever starts the divorce needs to choose one of five reasons: either adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent, two years’ desertion, or five years’ separation.

2.    Most people just want to get on with it so they can sort out the family finances. The quickest options are adultery, and “unreasonable behaviour”, but of course they both involve blame. In the case of adultery it’s not necessary to name the other man or woman but to give dates and locations, if known.

3.    In the case of unreasonable behaviour you must prove “the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent”. Typically there are five or six short paragraphs, mentioning for example attitudes to money, alcohol, sex or communication, or emotional deprivation or anger issues.

4.    When preparing a petition, a good family solicitor will follow the Law Society’s Family Protocol and “include brief details … sufficient to satisfy the court”, and send a draft to the other party “with a view to coming to an agreement”.

5.    In the recent case of Owens v Owens [2017], Mrs Owens’ petition relied on Mr Owens’ unreasonable behaviour. He had apparently prioritised work over home life, was unloving and unsupportive, moody and disparaging, and the couple had led separate lives for many years.

6.    Mrs Owens’ petition could easily have achieved the end result of obtaining a divorce, but Mr Owens took the unusual step of defending. The Central Family Court dismissed the petition saying the unreasonable behaviour involved “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage”. Mrs Owens appealed. Sir James Munby in the Court of Appeal applied the law as it stands and approved the Central Family Court’s finding.

Time For A Change In The Law?

7.    In the Owens case Sir James Munby said “the challenge for the divorce lawyer is … to draft an anodyne petition” which navigates between rejection by the Court on the one hand, and non-cooperation by the respondent on the other. Many couples “colluded” in the allegations set out in the petition. He concluded the law was based on “hypocrisy and lack of intellectual honesty”, and indicated it was time for a change in the law to no fault divorce. In the meantime, Mrs Owens’ only option is to wait for five years from the date of separation.

8.    It is possible to avoid blame. But this involves living separately for two years and the other spouse consenting to the divorce. It’s amicable but it’s not exactly getting on with your life. Unless you are one of a tiny minority who can rely on desertion (it’s hard to prove), the only other option is to separate and wait for five years.

9.    Surely it would be better if couples could divorce without mud-slinging or delay? Yes, but that’s not possible without a change to our out-dated law. The family law organisation, Resolution, campaigns for no fault divorce, but at the moment it seems only a distant possibility.

What Are The Arguments Against No Fault Divorce?

10. Some people value the idea of punishment in fault based divorce. But what a hollow victory where blame simply creates antagonism. And the “punishment” is of the most obscure variety because the divorce petition is only seen by the couple, their solicitors, and the Court. Relying on fault makes absolutely no difference to outcome save for hurt feelings.

11. The Government tried to introduce no fault divorce in 1996 but got into a muddle with the arrangements and backed away for fear of undermining marriage. This is despite being committed to reducing conflict over children and matrimonial finances by promoting mediation rather than court proceedings.

12. Scotland has had no fault divorce since 2006. Surely it’s time for us to follow their lead. Sticking to our current divorce laws is likely to cause increasing misery to separating couples, and damage to children and society as a whole.

Contact us on 01962 217640 for a free telephone consultation on this or any other family law issue

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

Visit our website just-family-law.com

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

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