Separating couples can submit a joint application on mutual terms for the first time ever when No-Fault Divorce comes into effect on April 6.
Bringing far-reaching changes to divorce laws, No-Fault Divorce follows a three-decade long campaign spearheaded by family justice group Resolution and supported by family lawyers including our firm.
The process finally ends the bitter ‘blame game’ and eliminates the need for separating couples to prove some form of fault or to live apart for at least two years before being granted a divorce.
If you are among the couples looking to make a joint application, here are the steps to take.
As joint Applicants you can both apply for a Divorce Order if your marriage has broken down irretrievably. You must also confirm that you have discussed the possibility of a reconciliation.
Firstly, you will need to agree between yourselves who will be the first Applicant as they will start the process by completing the application. The other spouse will then have the opportunity to complete, review and provide any additional details. Both of you will need to sign a statement of truth confirming the facts in the document are true before filing the application.
You lodge a statement with the completed application for a Divorce Order, which confirms that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. You can agree between yourselves how to pay the court fee of £593 for your joint application.
The court starts the process, and you go through a 20 week ‘reflection period’ to carefully consider if you are making the right decision before you can apply for a Conditional Order (currently known as a Decree Nisi). This is a court order stating the date when a marriage will terminate unless there is a good reason to refuse to grant a divorce.
If, after 20 weeks, you still want to continue the divorce application, you inform the court and apply for a Conditional Order.
Six weeks after applying for the Conditional Order, the court can issue a Final Order (currently known as a Decree Absolute) – the legal document that terminates the marriage.
If, during the process you are unable to work together to progress the joint application, either of you can apply for a Divorce Order as an individual Applicant.
A cautionary recommendation is to ensure the financial issues are agreed before a Final Order is granted so that pensions and insurance benefits can be protected.
No-Fault Divorce aims to make it easier for couples to manage their separation and work together to avoid lengthy, costly, and stressful court disputes. An experienced family law firm can help you both with compiling the necessary documents or you can apply jointly online.
ABOUT NICKI MITCHELL
With extensive experience in family law, Nicki specialises in the financial aspects of relationship breakdown – and particularly complex cases involving family businesses, multiple properties, and complicated pension arrangements.
A skilled mediator and collaborative family lawyer, Nicki has recently further enhanced her extensive expertise by becoming a child-inclusive mediator. The accreditation enables her to who meets with children of separated parents and hear what they want for their future. www.jonesmyers.co.uk