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New No Fault Divorce Law Is Introduced to End The Blame Game - What Do I Need To Know?

The government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has drastically reformed the divorce process by removing the concept of fault with the aim of simplifying the proceedings and helping couples avoid unnecessary acrimony. 

It is now no longer necessary – or even possible for either party to prove ‘fault’ in order to obtain a divorce. This is part of the new no fault divorce law that aims to end the ‘blame game’ that blighted the old divorce process.

The new divorce law allows for a divorce without either party attributing fault or waiting for lengthy separation periods.  One person or a couple jointly can make a statement of irretrievable breakdown without giving any reasons.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do Both Parties Have To Agree To A No Fault Divorce?

    It is no longer possible to submit a divorce application under the old divorce system, which means you no longer can or need to apportion blame or fault on your partner to start divorce proceedings.

    Following the new divorce law which came into effect on 6th April 2022 in England and Wales, there is now very little a spouse can do to contest an unwanted divorce.

    This welcome change means that domestic abusers will no longer be able to contest and ‘trap’ a spouse in an unwanted marriage for five years plus.

    How Does No-Fault Divorce Work?

    In June 2020, Parliament passed the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which is now an act of Parliament.

    The new law has retained the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce. However, the requirement to specify one of the five grounds for divorce with a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown’ – thereby eliminating the requirement to administer any blame.

    The basis of the new law remains the same: divorce is only possible when a marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, the definition of an irretrievable breakdown has expanded to include two key changes.

    The law does also allow for a joint statement, again increasing the opportunities for a mutual split to avoid artificial imbalances.

    The relevant laws on the dissolution of a civil partnership will also be updated. The idea is that broadly the same system and principles, complete with the no-fault declaration of irretrievable breakdown, will apply to both divorce and dissolution.

    Divorce Process Timeline Explained for 2022.

    How Much Does a No Fault Divorce Cost?

    If the court fee stays the same, the minimum cost of getting a no-fault divorce will be £593. However, not everyone can do their own divorce and therefore, the average cost of a divorce is likely to be £772 – £1,500 even after the divorce law changes.

    How Long Does a No Fault Divorce Take in 2022?

    No-fault divorce is not some quickie divorce scheme designed to end a marriage instantly.

    In fact, the new divorce law will actually take longer to complete than the current law in place now.

    The government has introduced a 20-week (minimum) reflection period and a further 6 week wait to end your marriage, which means in total, a no fault divorce will take around 6 months to complete.

    Can a No-Fault Divorce be Contested?

    One of the key changes to the divorce law will mean that couples cannot contest a divorce, which means that a divorce will be granted by a Judge on the basis of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

    Why Did The Previous Divorce Law Need To Be Changed?

    If you can’t or won’t allege fault, you can only get divorced once you’ve been separated for two years if both spouses agree to the divorce, or five years if one spouse refuses. Supporters of the changes argue the current system has several major flaws.

    For example, if a couple wants a quick divorce without delay, they must agree between themselves as to who will “take the blame.”

    Even if it’s just a legal formality, working out who this should be and the details to present to the court can be an awkward and emotional process. It can even lead to resentment that spills over into the negotiations about financial settlements and childcare.

    Many find that it simply isn’t financially viable to live as two separate households for two years before starting divorce proceedings and formally reaching a financial settlement.

    Another problem is with cases where one spouse no longer wants to be in the marriage but the other refuses to accept it is over.

    The high bar for proving unreasonable behaviour means one spouse can often drag out the divorce until not only has the other left the marital home, but five years have passed.

    What Happens If My Ex-Partner Doesn’t Want To Divorce?

    Currently, you would need to wait for a period of 5 years of separation to be granted a divorce if your ex-partner is unwilling to comply unless you are happy to apportion blame.

    Under the new divorce law, you can now file for divorce after 12 months of marriage regardless of whether your husband or wife agrees providing that the marriage has broken down beyond repair.

    Will No-fault Divorce Affect Financial Settlements?

    Many divorcing couples believe that if one spouse is proved to be at fault for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage it will result in a better financial settlement for the “wronged” spouse.But for the most part, the actions of either spouse generally have no bearing upon the terms of a financial settlement.

    Even where negotiations over finances ended up in court, the judge would rarely place any weight upon the fault of either party for causing the divorce.

    Therefore, since fault for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage did not affect the terms of a financial settlement prior to the change of the rules, then removing the “fault” aspect of divorce under the new legislation, will not have any obvious effect on financial settlements in the future.

    Does The New Divorce Law Affect Financial Settlements?

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