Legal

New No Fault Divorce Legislation: What You Need to Know

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New legislation for no fault divorce comes in force from today, April 6 2022. Could it make things easier for older separating spouses?

The introduction of a no fault divorce from today 6 April 2022 will mean not having to rely on fault, blame or wrong-doing to legally end a marriage.

The new laws will allow married couples to get a divorce without citing one of the five official reasons for a divorce, including adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with consent, or five years separation without consent.

The new laws are set to streamline the divorce process and allow for more amicable divorces between couples.

In a statement, Slater & Gordon said it believes the new divorce laws will “lead to divorces being less contentious, allowing spouses to concentrate on resolving their matrimonial finances and child arrangements in a more constructive manner.”

In the event you have not been separated for two years or more, as the law used to stand, a petitioner had to rely on one of the two fault-based facts to present a divorce petition to the Court.  This can cause unnecessary conflict, particularly for older couples who may have been married for some time, who have simply fallen out of love but remain good friends and want to go through the divorce process as amicably and as smoothly as possible. 

Despite the fact that divorce will be more straightforward from today, Slater and Gordon's Family Team are warning that expert legal advice is still vital to ensure that important factors – such as financial settlements and child arrangements – are fully considered.

The system was in need of an overhaul as 25% of people aged 55 and above who took the blame for a divorce in order to legally end their marriage claimed it wasn’t in fact their fault. An additional 50% of divorcees think the divorce process should be easier and almost half (44%) of those divorced, or in the process of getting divorced, say they would have opted for a No-Fault Divorce if the law had allowed it.

This change to divorce could also see an increasing number of people taking the next step with their partner as almost one in five (18%) of people currently in relationships said they would now get married as the divorce process was simpler.

However, 42% of divorcees above the age of 55 don’t think the divorce process should be easier because more than half (61%) believe it could lessen the meaning of marriage, 48% think divorce should not be encouraged and 42% believe that people could have regrets later for divorcing instead of trying to save the marriage.

Slater and Gordon Make It Cheaper to Get Divorced

To support those looking into using no-fault divorce, our Legal Partner, Slater and Gordon, has reduced its petitioner fixed fee divorce from £1,020 (inc. VAT) to £540 (inc. VAT) plus the Court fee. Reducing the price of the firm's fixed fee divorce offering will ensure clients can still access the expert legal advice they need upon embarking on marital breakdown, rather than attempting to facilitate a no fault divorce themselves without legal representation.

There will be no change to the service offered to clients and the same level of legal expertise will be accessible at a reduced cost.

Georgina Chase, head of family practice at Slater & Gordon, says: “Despite the removal of blame in the divorce process, it is still crucial to seek expert legal advice.

“Not only will accessing expert advice allow the divorce process to go as smoothly as possible but a divorce will only legally end the marriage and does not resolve the financial aspects of a divorce and nor arrangements for children and a professional should be sought to advice on these important family law issues.”

More on the new legislation below.

Slater and Gordon’s expert divorce lawyers can provide all the advice and guidance you need if you are considering a no fault divorce.  Get in touch today.

What is a “No Fault” Divorce?

No fault divorce has the potential to bring about big changes to the divorce process, including less conflict between parties involved.

What Benefits Will the New Law Bring, Particularly for Older Spouses?

  • Spouses will not have to rely on the fault-based facts of unreasonable behaviour or adultery to get divorced, if they have not been separated for two years or more and can instead get divorced without blame
  • There's more chance of the divorce progressing amicably; avoiding a lengthy stressful battle
  • There'll be less emotional damage inflicted on children/grandchildren
  • It will provide both parties with more time to focus on resolving the financial aspects of their divorce– which is paramount for older couples due to the accumulation of their assets and reaching retirement

What Does the New No-Fault Divorce Law Propose?

The law will introduce some fundamental improvements, including:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will no longer be the sole ground for a divorce
  • Complex legal jargon will be removed within the divorce process so that it is accessible and easy to understand for couples
  • The need for facts and evidence will be replaced with a statement of irretrievable breakdown
  • The opportunity to contest the divorce will be removed but there would still be some legal grounds for challenging the divorce if needed
  • There will be a choice of a joint application for divorce as well as the option for one party to initiate the process
  • A minimum timeframe of 6-months will be introduced from the initial petition stage to final divorce. This means couples will have a period of reflection if they wish to ensure they are making the right decision as well as plenty of time to put plans into place

Old Divorce Legislation Could Cause Conflict Between Spouses

The old rules could fuel conflict between spouses, by forcing one party to blame the other if they do not want to wait two years or more before obtaining a divorce. This was particularly difficult with older couples that may have been together for a long time, and would like to remain friends following divorce, particularly where children and grandchildren are involved.  The new legislation aims to remove conflict from the process. 

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