No Fault Divorce


Nearly six months in and we have a fully embedded no fault divorce system in England and Wales. The process for getting divorced has become simpler and has no blame.

No Fault Divorce

It has taken many years of campaigning for no fault divorce to be introduced to this country. Prior to April 2022 you had to demonstrate that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and use one of five reasons to prove the breakdown. Many divorces are still progressing under the previous system.

The new no fault system simply requires one of the couple to confirm that the marriage has broken down and does not require any reasons to be given. The application can be made by just one party or you can make a joint application. The joint application does not require you to be in the same room to start the divorce. The first person to complete the divorce petition will confirm that it is a joint application and an invite gets sent to the other person to confirm it is a joint application.

The divorce is still a four stage process, but the names of the certificates issued have been changed. The stages are as follows :

  1. Divorce petition completed (either as a joint petition or a sole application)
  2. The other party is contacted by the court and invited to respond to the petition. It is not possible to defend the petition on the basis that the marriage has not broken down.
  3. The conditional order is applied for and there is a 20 week wait until the conditional order will be made (previously known as the Decree Nisi)
  4. The final order can be applied for after at least 6 weeks have passed from the date of the conditional order (previously known as the Decree Absolute)

It is usually advisable not to apply for the final order in the divorce until a financial order has been made by the court. The reasons for this are because the final order can affect inheritance rights if one party dies after the final order is made but before a financial order is made.

It is so beneficial to couples who are separating to now be able to divorce without needing to blame one party for the breakdown of the marriage or have to wait two years to avoid blaming the other. I am still finding that couples benefit from discussing the divorce in mediation. it is still a significant decision to make and it can help to have the initial conversation about getting a divorce, who is starting the process and when jointly. It can help smooth the process of separation and by having constructive discussions about the divorce helps move onto the other conversations about the arrangements for the children and finances.  

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