No Fault Divorce Explained

Posted: 10th August 2022

In another post, we talked about the new no-fault divorce law being introduced into English family law which would stop the “blame game” for those wanting to petition for a divorce.

Now, the new no-fault divorce law has been enforced which means that couples can go their separate ways without having to give reasons for the end of the marriage. Instead of giving reasons for the split, couples must provide a statement of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”.

Before 6th April 2022, married couples had to wait 2 years before getting a divorce unless they could give reasons for the breakdown such as behaviour or adultery.

This law was very outdated and failed to reflect the true situation and position of a lot of couples, namely that many relationships do not break down as a result of one of these reasons, many people simply drift apart.

What does this mean for couples?

The new law acknowledges that some couples may not have negative sentiments towards each other and that they may agree on an amicable split. This makes it a lot easier for couples to go ahead with the process without having bad blood. They are able to focus on the end result and find an outcome that works for both rather than quarrelling over who is to blame.

Unlike before, couples can also now jointly apply for a divorce if they both agree on ending the marriage. This can help people feel as though they have equal footing in the process, further promoting amicable communications.

In addition, the divorce cannot be contested by the other side, which avoids arguments back and forth and ideally a smoother process.

This new divorce law is more fitting in today’s world and champions resolution for the future rather than dwelling on the past.

What is the process of applying for a no-fault divorce?

The no-fault divorce process starts with either a joint or sole application being made to the court on the basis that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. Once the application is made, both parties will be notified and there is a waiting period of 20 weeks after applying before proceeding with the “conditional order.” This is a document that confirms that the court has no reason as to why the pair should not get divorced.

If a sole application was made and the other party wants to contest the petition, then they will need a legal reason to do so, such as the marriage was never valid in the first place. This means that people cannot contest the divorce just to delay the process or because they do not want to get divorced.

After the conditional order is made and approved by the court, the couple must wait at least 43 days before finalising the divorce through the “final order”.

Overall, the average time it takes to get a no-fault divorce is around 6 months if there are no complications. However, it may take longer if there are legal issues or if mistakes are made in the application forms.

Also keep in mind that even after the divorce is finalised, financial claims against each other remain live and it is therefore important to obtain legal advice in relation to this to protect your financial future.

Here at EMG, our whole team of family lawyers are members of Resolution which means we are committed to resolving the difficulties our clients face in as non-confrontational a way as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help with a no-fault divorce. Call us on 0191 249 4555 or email [email protected].