Divorce & Separation

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The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 introduced ‘no fault’ divorces in England and Wales for the first time in April 2022.

Married couples no longer have to allege fault and blame the other party for adultery or unreasonable behaviour or wait to be separated from each other for two years or, sometimes, five years if the other party will not agree. Married couples were often left trading accusations or have their lives left on hold waiting for the time they could finally move on with their lives. It frequently impacted negatively on the lives of the parties continuing relationship as parents and on their children, too, and victims of domestic abuse do not have to worry about an application for a divorce being defended by a controlling or coercive abusive former partner.

How does the new ‘no fault’ divorce work?

Instead of one party blaming the other, often unfairly and sometimes in order to get a divorce straightaway, the new law will mean that one or both parties if they are making a joint application for a divorce can state that there has been an ‘irretrievable breakdown’ as the only ground for a divorce.

An application for a divorce can now be made online to the court and tribunal service portal rather than by post. Provided that the marriage was valid there is no opportunity to defend and, once the application has been issued by the court and served on the other party, the applicant will have to wait 20 weeks before being able to apply for a conditional order (what used to be called ‘decree nisi’). This might seem a long time to wait but it allows the parties time to reflect on whether they do want a divorce, to sort out any child care arrangements and reach an agreement on a financial order separating matrimonial capital, pensions and providing maintenance. The earliest the applicant can apply for a final order (what was the ‘decree absolute’) is after a further wait of six weeks and a day after the conditional order was made, although it is often advisable to wait until there is a financial order in place.

How we can help you?

We are experienced family lawyers and member of Resolution an association of like minded family lawyers and other professionals committed to resolving family matters in a constructive and non-confrontational way. Resolution’s Code of Practice for members means we will support you to resolve matters as constructively – and with as little conflict – as possible.

If you would like initial advice about a family breakdown we do offer an initial advice session for up to an hour for £150 plus VAT. Give us a call so we can arrange a convenient time with you.

All initial enquiries are without cost or obligation, so please call us now on 01865 721451 or, email info@challenor-gardiner.co.uk or complete our Free Online Enquiry contact form for your bespoke fixed price quotation