Danson House, Bexleyheath

Danson House, Bexleyheath

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No Fault Divorce

Divorce law in England and Wales is changing from Autumn 2021 with the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce. This means couples will be able to get divorced without the need to assign blame to one of the parties for the failure of the relationship.

This will be good news for people facing the prospect of divorce in the future as it should help to make the divorce process simpler and remove a point of potential conflict. It will also help to prevent the prospect of people being trapped in loveless marriages due to the need to conform to an outdated view of the reasons marriages break down.

However, for the vast majority of people thinking of getting divorced, it does not mean you should delay as it is still usually possible to achieve an amicable divorce in most cases under the current rules.

At WMK, we can guide you through divorce and relationship breakdown while keeping conflict to a minimum, including assisting with:

Our divorce lawyers have strong expertise in constructive negotiation and other non-confrontational methods for dealing with divorce and related issues. This means we can give you the best chance of an amicable split while making sure your future needs are met.

WMK’s Family Law team can offer you:

  • Decades of experience successfully guiding people through divorce and separation
  • Highly effective methods to reduce conflict, including constructive negotiation
  • Robust support for Family Court proceedings
  • Flexible fee options to match your circumstances

Speak to our divorce solicitors in Sidcup, the London Borough of Bexley, Kent

For expert advice on any part of the divorce process, please feel free to speak in confidence to one of our team now by calling 020 8300 9321 or emailing enquiries@wmk-law.com.

 

Your questions about no fault divorce answered

Why is divorce law changing in England and Wales?

Under the current rules, in order to get divorced in England or Wales you need to be able to show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this, you must cite one of five accepted reasons (see below), which requires one of you to take the blame for the failure of the marriage or to wait a minimum of two years for a ‘no blame’ marriage.

Also, under the current rules, if you start divorce proceedings and your spouse objects to the divorce, you will have to go to court to ask for permission to divorce. You would then need to prove that one of the five accepted reasons applies. Should a court refuse to grant your divorce, you would then have to wait until you and your spouse had lived separately for at least five years before being able to secure a divorce.

No fault divorce removes the need to assign blame and the option for the responding spouse to contest the divorce.

Under the current rules, the accepted reasons for divorce are:

  1. Adultery – Where your spouse has been unfaithful with someone of the opposite gender.
  2. Unreasonable behaviour – Where your spouse has behaved in a way that means you can no longer continue to live with them. This covers a very wide range of issues, from spending too much time at work or out with friends to drunkenness, drug addiction and domestic abuse.
  3. Desertion – Where you spouse has left you for at least two years out of the last two and a half years without your agreement, without good reason and with the intention to end your relationship.
  4. Separation for at least two years – If both spouses agree to the divorce.
  5. Separation for at least five years – Whether both spouses agree or not.

How will the new no fault divorce rules work?

Couples who agree to a divorce will have the option to submit a joint application to the relevant court. People will still have the option to submit a solo application if their spouse does not agree to a divorce and the responding spouse will no longer have the option to contest the divorce.

Other changes include changing the name of a ‘decree nisi’ to ‘Conditional Order’ and ‘decree absolute’ to ‘Final Order’, as well as introducing a minimum period of 20 weeks from the date when divorce proceedings are initiated to the granting of a Conditional Order.

Is it worth waiting for no fault divorce?

For most couples, it will not be necessary to wait for no fault divorce to be introduced. This is because you can usually achieve an amicable divorce under the current rules if you have the right legal support.

A good divorce solicitor can help choose appropriate reasons to cite in a divorce petition that will meet the standard to be accepted by a court without requiring the party who ‘takes the blame’ to admit to anything they find objectionable.

In some limited circumstances, waiting may make sense, for example if your spouse is very likely to contest the divorce. However, such cases are extremely rare and often a spouse with objections will accept the divorce with the right approach.

Will I still need a solicitor for a no fault divorce?

Yes, it will still pay to have an experienced divorce solicitor to help you. There are two key reasons for this.

Firstly, a good divorce solicitor can help to ensure all necessary documents are filled out accurately and submitted promptly. This can help your divorce to go ahead as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Secondly, if you need to separate your finances and/or make arrangements for children, a solicitor can help you do this in a way that minimises conflict while ensuring you get the right arrangements in place for you and your loved ones.

Choosing a solicitor with strong skills in negotiation and non-confrontational dispute resolution can significantly increase your chances of keeping the whole divorce process amicable, avoiding conflict wherever possible.

Get in touch with our divorce solicitors in Sidcup

If you would like more information about how we can help with your divorce or you would like to set up an initial appointment, please contact our team:

 

  • John O'Connor
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  • Sarah John
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