divorce procedure

No Fault Divorce

No Fault Divorce

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No Fault Divorce has finally been introduced to the UK after years of campaigning by Resolution, the community of family justice professionals, and family lawyers, who welcome the change.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act was passed by Parliament in 2020. The purpose of the Act is to remove fault from divorce, helping couples to separate and divorce without blaming each other.

I am particularly happy with the change. Removing fault from the divorce petition, the first stage of the divorce process, should reduce the animosity and help divorcing couples have a good divorce.

Family Lawyer Consultation with client

This is certainly how I prefer to act for my clients during a divorce. However, I do acknowledge, and regularly come across situations when it is necessary to take a firmer approach. In any event, I am confident that the Act, once implemented, will reduce conflict allowing couples to agree child-focused arrangements and fair financial settlements.

In my view, the change will also help if you are unsure about starting divorce proceedings. You may consider speaking to a family lawyer and/or initiating the process sooner. This is because you no longer need to worry about what you have said about your spouse in your divorce petition and how they might react. For more information about starting divorce proceedings, read my article here.

The Current Law

Currently there is one ground for divorce, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. You must rely on one of the five following facts:

  • Adultery
  • Behaviour
  • Desertion – 2 years
  • 2 years’ separation with consent
  • 5 years’ separation

If you have not been separated for more than 2 years then you are left with two options. If adultery is not applicable then you must rely on behaviour. This is the fact that requires you to blame your spouse. Whilst the types of behaviour can be mild, this can sometimes not be enough to satisfy the court. The recent case of Owens v Owens 2018, where Mrs Owens was not permitted to divorce her husband because her behaviour examples were considered too flimsy, highlighted how out of date the law relating to divorce is.

What does No Fault mean for Divorce?

The Act will make the following changes to the current law:

  • The five facts above will be replaced with a statement to show the irretrievable breakdown
  • The other party will not be able to contest the divorce
  • It will provide an option for a joint application
  • They will remove old fashioned legal terms with plain English
  • Decree Nisi will be called a conditional order and Decree Absolute will be called a final order

When does No Fault Divorce start?

The government is still working on the implementation. It is hoped that you will be able to start your no fault divorce in Autumn 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

Can I have a good divorce before No Fault Divorce starts?

Absolutely! I actively encourage it. Having a good divorce is largely reliant on how you and your spouse approach the divorce. It is also important to engage a divorce lawyer who shares your approach. The current divorce procedure should be used to have a good divorce if you cannot wait until the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022 to start divorce proceedings.

If you need help with your divorce or if would like to make an initial consultation to speak to me about your divorce.

Do call me on 0203 916 5585 or

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Posted by admin in Divorce
When should I start divorce proceedings?

When should I start divorce proceedings?

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When you first start considering divorce proceedings it can be a daunting and sometimes isolating experience. You may be concerned about the hostility and upset it will cause you, your spouse and the children. Being sensitive to the timings can help to keep the divorce as amicable as possible. The key is finding the right divorce solicitor for you. This will help to ensure that the divorce is dealt with constructively, with a child-focussed approach, whilst also feeling like you have someone by your side.

You may feel that you are not ready to start divorce proceedings immediately. If this is the case you should still take legal advice to learn about your rights and the divorce process itself. Having this knowledge and information should offer you some peace of mind.

Family Solicitor

My role as a family and divorce solicitor is to ensure that you understand the law and to support you through the divorce process. I will draft your divorce papers and help you navigate through the divorce settlement with empathy and compassion. Having a family solicitor does help to lessen the burden, as even an amicable divorce can be stressful.

It is important to consider the welfare of your children when taking this decision, however, my advice to all my clients is that your welfare is just as important.  The sooner you start divorce proceedings, the sooner you can take steps to move forward and think positively about your future. A simple, amicable and straightforward divorce could take eight to twelve months to complete. This can extend to two, and in some circumstances three years, when financial matters are being dealt with at court.

I understand that this is an upsetting time for you and that you may be dealing with a range of emotions. You will need time to work through these emotions before you are ready to commence divorce proceedings.  At my initial consultation I will provide you with family law advice for you to consider. This includes understanding the divorce process, discussing the arrangements for the children and advising you with regards to a financial settlement. It can be a lot of information to take in one session. I will leave you to digest this information and get back to me when you are ready to get started.

How much does it cost to start divorce proceedings?

There is a court fee of £550 which is paid to the Family Court when the divorce petition is sent to them for issue. Your legal fees will depend on the complexity of your case but most solicitors offer a fixed fee for dealing with the divorce process (not the financial agreement) or will be able to provide you with a clear estimate after speaking with you.

When can I start divorce proceedings?

Provided you have been married for one year and a day you can start divorce proceedings whenever you consider it appropriate. 

How long will it take to complete my divorce?

It can take between eight to twelve months, sometimes longer. It will depend on the court processing time and whether your spouse co-operates with the divorce process and is also committed to resolving matters amicably. The financial agreement can be resolved within this timeframe if it is agreed by consent. If it is not agreed, the court process can take two and sometimes three years. 

When did no fault divorce start?

It has not started yet and it is estimated to come into force in Autumn 2021. In the meantime you must rely on the current facts adultery, behaviour, desertion, 2 years’ separation with consent and 5 years’ separation.

What happens if the Respondent refuses to sign the divorce papers?

If the Respondent refuses to complete and return the acknowledgement of service to the court, you may instruct a bailiff or personal server to serve the papers on the Respondent. This confirmation of service can then be used to apply for your Decree Nisi.

What is Decree Nisi?

Decree Nisi is the second stage in the divorce process. After considering your divorce petition and the Respondent’s acknowledgement of service, the court will pronounce that they see no reason why you shouldn’t divorce and will issue a conditional order called Decree Nisi. Six weeks after the pronouncement of your Decree Nisi you can apply for Decree Absolute, which is the third and final stage in the divorce process. You should not apply for Decree Absolute until your financial settlement is agreed and sent to the court.

I have received divorce papers, what should I do?

If you are the Respondent in receipt of divorce papers you should consult a family solicitor who will explain the divorce process and the terms of the divorce petition to you. Standard clauses used in the divorce petition may appear hostile and aggressive (when they are not intended to be) to someone not familiar with the legal terms.  Speaking to a family solicitor will put you at ease.

If you have received divorce papers or are unsure about starting divorce proceedings, please do contact me. I will advise and set out the options available to you. You will then have the information you need to make an informed decision. This will help when deciding whether to start divorce proceedings. If you are the one responding to divorce papers, it will reassure you to understand the terms and the options available to you. 

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Posted by admin in Divorce