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How To Start a Joint Divorce Application – The Pros and Cons

The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 has transformed how couples can end their marriage in England and Wales.

In this guide, we will explore one of the biggest changes to the divorce law, which was the introduction of joint divorce applications.

Table Of Contents

    Key Points

    • Are joint applications common? Statistics from the Government show that roughly 25% of applications are now made jointly as a couple.
    • Is it more complex? If one party doesn’t respond to the court at any point, a joint divorce cannot proceed any further as both parties are required to give consent at each stage.
    • Does it cost more? Some family law providers do charge more to work with both parties. Our online divorce service involves working with both parties for a low-cost fixed fee.
    • How long does it take? It’s actually no quicker to file for divorce as a couple due to the mandatory waiting periods of 20 + 6 weeks that are present in all cases.

    What is a joint divorce application?

    As the name suggests, a joint divorce application is where both parties to the divorce cooperate to complete the divorce procedure together.

    The ability to submit a divorce application as a couple is a relatively new option for separating couples.

    It became possible to file for divorce as a couple on April 6 2022 when the UK divorce laws changed to give way for a no-fault divorce.

    Over the last 50 years, it has only been possible for one spouse to apply for divorce, with the majority of applications being fault-based grounds, such as unreasonable behaviour and adultery.

    Under a joint application for divorce, there is no Respondent as such. The parties will be known as Applicant 1 and Applicant 2.

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    Benefits of Joint Divorce Applications

    • Easier and Less Stressful Process: By opting for a joint application, couples can navigate the divorce process together, sharing the responsibilities and decisions involved. This collaborative approach can significantly reduce the stress and emotional burden associated with divorce.
    • Quicker Resolution: Joint applications often result in faster divorce resolutions, as both parties are actively involved throughout the process. With mutual cooperation and agreement, couples can reach a settlement more efficiently, avoiding lengthy court battles.
    • Improved Communication: Joint applications foster open and transparent communication between spouses. By actively participating in the divorce proceedings, both parties have the opportunity to express their concerns, needs, and desires, leading to better understanding and cooperation.
    • Focused on the Future: By jointly applying for a divorce, couples can shift their focus towards planning for the future rather than dwelling on past grievances. This approach encourages couples to consider important matters such as financial arrangements and child custody in a constructive and forward-thinking manner.

    Drawbacks of Joint Divorce Applications

    • Requirement for Mutual Agreement: Joint applications require both spouses to be in agreement regarding the divorce. If one party is not ready to move forward or does not consent to the divorce, a joint application may not be possible. In such cases, an individual may need to proceed with a sole application.
    • Potential for Imbalance: While joint applications encourage equal participation, there is a possibility of power imbalances between spouses. One party may dominate the decision-making process, leading to a less equitable outcome. It is essential for both spouses to actively engage and ensure their voices are heard throughout the proceedings.

    You need to understand that when it comes to submitting a joint application for divorce, both parties are required to give their consent to move forward at each stage.

    If one party doesn’t respond or decides not to cooperate, you will need to apply to the court to change proceedings to a sole application via the paper process.

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    What is the process for filing for divorce as a couple?

    Below is a breakdown of the divorce process. We also have a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a divorce online, that you may find useful.

    1) Submit a joint application

    You can either do this yourself through or by using a reputable online divorce service or solicitor.

    A key distinction between an online divorce provider and a solicitor is that an online divorce provider can work with both of you on your joint application.

    However, the same solicitor cannot act for both parties.

    Using solicitors for your joint application will also mean you have to use the slower paper process instead of the online digital portal.

    Applicant 1 starts the divorce application, and then Applicant 2 fills in their information. Finally, Applicant 1 submits the application to the court.

    2) Court begins divorce proceedings

    After the application is received, it will take 2 weeks before the divorce officially begins. Once the court starts the divorce process, the 20-week reflection period begins.

    This period of time is designed for couples to discuss important aspects of divorce such as children’s arrangements and financial matters.

    It’s always an opportunity for couples to reconcile if they so wish.

    3)  Conditional order – part 1

    After the 20-week period of reflection is up, you can both apply for a conditional order to be made.

    The conditional order, previously known as Decree Nisi, officially confirms that you are entitled to divorce.

    4) Conditional order – part 2

    The court will now review the conditional order and if they see no reason you cannot divorce then a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ is issued to you.

    This essentially confirms that you are entitled to a divorce.

    5) Submit financial order

    You must now wait for another 6 weeks before moving on to the next stage.

    At this stage in proceedings, you are able to submit a consent order to the court to make any financial agreement legally binding.

    You can achieve a clean break divorce once the next stage has been completed.

    6) Application for Final Order

    After a minimum of six weeks has passed you can apply for the final order (previously known as the decree absolute)

    You will typically receive the Final Order between 24-48 hours after your application to the court.

    This document legally ends your marriage.

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    How to make a joint application with your husband or wife

    You can make a joint application for divorce if both of the following apply:

    • you both agree that you should get a divorce
    • you’re not at risk of domestic abuse

    The first thing you’ll need to do is decide if you want to apply online or by post.

    Whichever method you choose, your husband or wife must use the same.

    Each stage of the divorce procedure requires both parties to confirm separately that they wish for the divorce application to continue.

    If for any reason your former partner stops responding to the court, you can continue with the divorce as a sole applicant by applying to the court.

    You will need to decide whether you want to attempt to do your own divorce or use online divorce experts to handle the entire process for you.

    Whilst your situation may feel straightforward, there are multiple applications and forms that need to be completed correctly and on time if you wish for a quick and easy divorce.

    Making a joint divorce application is only possible if you have an address for your spouse.

    Getting a divorce without an address involves more legal hoops to prove to the court you have tried locating your missing spouse, therefore, making a joint application impossible.

    Questions people commonly ask…

    Can a joint application be changed to a sole application?

    Yes. If you start divorce proceedings under the joint application process, you can apply to the court to change to a sole application, but only at the conditional or final order application stage.

    Is filing for divorce as a couple quicker?

    The divorce process should take around 7 months to complete regardless of whether you apply as a sole applicant or jointly.

    There is a higher chance of your divorce taking longer if you file as a couple as both parties must tell the court to continue at each stage, as opposed to just one party.

    How long does a typical divorce take?

    How much does a no-fault divorce cost?

    It’s very difficult to give a precise answer without knowing your circumstances. However, court fees are £593 and are mandatory for most people.

    The cost to handle your divorce can be as low as £249 up to £5,000 depending on the complexity of your cases, where you live, and who you choose to help you.

    How much is a divorce?

    Is a digital divorce or the paper process better?

    It depends on each couple. The digital portal is a quicker and easy way of filing for divorce for most people. There are no forms to print out and it’s easier to edit mistakes.

    You will be updated via email and all forms the court requires you to complete are online. You’ll save money on postage and the divorce will typically complete sooner when done online.

    The benefits of getting a divorce online

    Do you need the help of a solicitor to file for divorce together?

    It’s a hard question to answer.

    However, there is no legal requirement to instruct a solicitor when getting a divorce, which means you can get a divorce without a lawyer if your situation is amicable.

    Like everything, diy divorce has its pros and cons. Yes, it will save you money initially, but will it cause you more stress and money in the future?

    Solicitors are often used by couples as a way of receiving professional legal advice on their options and financial position.

    If both parties are in agreement to divorce and have discussed their finances together, solicitors are rarely needed.

    If you have complex financial decisions and/or can’t come to an agreement with your ex-husband or wife, then instructing a solicitor to help is sensible.

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