No fault divorce comes in as new divorce law on the 6 April 2022. If you want to start no-fault divorce proceedings you don’t need to wait until the 6 April as a family lawyer can start the paperwork now so you can start your divorce application in early April.
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Starting no-fault divorce proceedings
No-fault divorce proceedings can be started on the 6 April 2022. A no-fault divorce will take six months to complete. That is not because either the Court or divorce solicitors are slow but because the family court rules mean there is a minimum time of six months for the divorce process. The change to no-fault divorce therefore isn’t introducing quickie divorce although the procedure is more straightforward than the old fault divorce process.
Applying for a no-fault divorce
The new divorce law says you can apply for a divorce on your own or jointly with your husband or wife. If you apply on your own for your divorce then you are referred to as the applicant. If you make a joint divorce application with your spouse, you are referred to as applicant one and applicant two.
Joint divorce applications are possible because under the new divorce law you no longer have to say that your husband or wife has committed adultery or behaved unreasonably or that you have been separated for two or five years.
Under no fault divorce law, contained in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, you can apply for a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership by providing a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.
Even if you don’t apply jointly for a divorce, and apply as a single applicant, it is difficult for your spouse to challenge or defend your application for a divorce under the new divorce law. That is because the new law only allows a person to challenge a divorce where there are allegations about the validity of the marriage or jurisdictional issues.
The no-fault divorce process and procedure
Once you have submitted your divorce application the divorce court will consider the application and paperwork. If the court is satisfied the documents are in order, the judge will make a conditional order of divorce. This used to be known as the decree nisi of divorce.
After just over six weeks have elapsed from the grant of your conditional divorce, you can apply to court for your final order of divorce. This used to be referred to as the decree absolute of divorce. The final order means you are legally divorced and free to re-marry should you choose to do so.
Child care arrangements and no-fault divorce
Even though you and your spouse may agree that you want to get divorced, you may not be able to agree on the child care custody and contact arrangements after your separation or divorce. The court will not make a children order during the divorce proceedings but either you or your husband or wife can apply to court for a child arrangement order either prior to, during, or after the divorce proceedings.
If a judge makes a child arrangement order, the order sets out which parent the child should live with and the child contact arrangements. Alternatively, the child arrangement order could record that there is shared parenting and detail the arrangements.
Financial court orders and no-fault divorce proceedings
The divorce court has the power to make a financial court order after your conditional divorce order has been made. However, the court will only make a financial settlement order if either you or your spouse make an application.
If you have reached a financial settlement, either through solicitor negotiations or through mediation support, you can ask the court to make your agreement into a binding financial court order.
If you are in agreement about your financial settlement there is unlikely to be a need for a court hearing. Instead, the court will simply consider the drafted financial court order document and the information provided in a standard financial statement of information document and use that information to decide whether or not to approve the financial court order.
If you cannot reach a financial settlement by agreement then either you or your husband or wife can make a financial application. After financial disclosure, valuations and a series of court hearings, the judge at the final hearing, can hear evidence from each of you and make a financial court order setting out how your assets are to be divided.
Whether you have agreed a financial settlement or not, it is important that you have the security of a financial court order as that will give you certainty and peace of mind.
No-fault divorce – next steps
If you have questions about no-fault divorce proceedings or need advice about:
- Children law and an application for a child arrangement order
- Domestic violence and an application for an injunction order
- Financial settlements and an application for a financial court order
Then our friendly specialist London divorce solicitors can help you so that you can obtain a divorce and resolve the children arrangements and reach a financial settlement. Our expert divorce lawyers can guide you through the divorce process so that you and your family can come to terms with the marriage breakdown and start a new chapter in your lives.
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