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    5 July 2021

    Focus on Family Law: How will the new No Fault Divorce Rules work?

    No-fault divorce is due to come into effect in England and Wales on 6th April 2022. It will be the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years.  Couples will be able to get divorced without one person needing to blame the other for the breakdown of a relationship, for the first time.

    Separating and divorcing is often a very difficult and emotional time.  Some need or want to blame the other party but this can create an unhelpful approach, where the focus should be on reaching a resolution as quickly and painlessly as possible.  It is a common misconception that ‘blame’ or ‘fault’ will impact a financial award.  ‘Bad behaviour’ is rarely taken into account when calculating a financial settlement, but it is difficult for couples caught up in an emotional situation to accept that consequences do not flow from their perception of their ex-partners behaviour.

    Removing blame helps not only in the divorce/separation process but also for parents to avoid unnecessary conflict when deciding on future arrangements for their children.  Taking away the ‘blame’ from the legal process helps to promote a more positive approach to all aspects of separation and divorce.

    Q. Does no-fault divorce mean we can have a “quickie divorce”? 

    The new no-fault process involves a period of six months before you can obtain a final divorce order and is unlikely to be very different in terms of the time taken to finish the divorce, as under the current system.

    Q. Will it be cheaper to get divorced? 

    With no-blame involved, it is hoped things will be speedier and less expensive outcomes will be achieved.

    Q. Should I wait for no-fault divorce?

    If you are considering commencing divorce proceedings now, it is worth considering waiting for the new law to come into effect.  However, this is likely to vary from couple to couple.  It will avoid the need to pass the blame for the relationship failing, therefore reducing bad feelings towards each other and may then pave the way for settlement in financial discussions, when making arrangements for children. There are likely to be other factors to consider as well and April 2022 is still a while away.

    Q. How will no-fault divorce work?

    The new law introduces the following:

    • Removes the requirement to establish one or more facts to prove irretrievable breakdown (blame by way of Adultery, desertion etc)
    • Updates the divorce terminology so;
    • ‘Decree Nisi’ becomes a ‘Conditional Order’
    • ‘Decree Absolute’ becomes a ‘Final Order’
    • ‘Petitioner’ becomes the ‘Applicant’
    • Introduces joint applications where the couple agree the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
    • Applicants can submit a sole application if their partner does not agree.
    • Introduces a minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the ‘Conditional Order’ can be made.

    We have been waiting for the new law for a long time and many have campaigned for it.  Hopefully the start date will not be put back again and the landscape for separating couples will look far more conciliatory,  from April next year.

    Fixed Fee Appointments

    It is always advisable to have an initial chat with a Family Solicitor; this ensures you know your legal position and rights before proceeding. It does not have to be costly to take advice.  Steeles Law Family Solicitors offer an initial fixed fee meeting for £100.00 plus VAT for up to an hour so that you can chat through any legal issues and raise any questions you have please call the team on 01603 598000 or email family@steeleslaw.co.uk to book your appointment.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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