What are the four main changes?
Removal of blame
Parties will no longer need to assign blame or cite one of the previous five ‘facts’ to be able to petition. It will instead be possible just for either party, or even the parties jointly if they prefer, to cite that the relationship has broken down irretrievably.
No more defended divorces
It will also no longer be possible to contest a divorce as one person citing that the marriage has broken down will be taken by the court as ‘conclusive evidence’. However, there will still be limited way to challenge proceedings such as lack of jurisdiction, invalidity of marriage or fraud.
Currently the first divorce order or decree is called the ‘Decree Nisi’ and the final the ‘Decree Absolute’. These will now be known as ‘Conditional Divorce Order’ and ‘Final Divorce Order’.
There will be a minimum period of 20 weeks from the date of the petition until the Conditional Divorce Order is obtained and then a further 6 week period before applying for a Final Divorce order. This is technically an increase in timings given there wasn’t previous a limit on when the first divorce order could be applied for however in practice very few divorces were resolved within 6 months either due to unresolved financial arrangements or due to court delays.
What will ‘no fault divorce’ actually mean?
It is hoped that removing the need to cite blame will lead to more amicable divorces, and create a simplified, more efficient divorce procedure. However, several things are not changing including the fee charged by the court (recently increased to £593.00), the format for divorce through the online portal nor the large court backlog that the court staff are still working their way through due to the pandemic.
What about financial claims?
It remains important to get specialist legal advice in this area, and to also remember that petitioning for divorce does not deal with either party’s financial claims against each other. These always need to be resolved separately, but equally can be done amicably and without the need for court proceedings if both parties agree.
We would also advise parties to seek early advice on divorce and financial matters so that you can protect your position on separation and be fully informed on this complex area.
How can Hanne & Co help?
We have a large family team with a range of experience. We believe that family & divorce requires a rather different approach to many other areas of the law. We pride ourselves on our high level of client care and communication and will handle your case in a sensitive and professional manner. If you want to discuss any of the above in more detail or to find out more about how our team can help you, please contact one of the Family Law team on 02072280017.