No Fault Divorce

The breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership is nearly always a challenging time for both parties. Unfortunately, it is all too common as 42% of marriages now end in divorce and around 10% of civil partnerships are dissolved each year.

Our family solicitors here at Bawtrees LLP have many years of experience in understanding and dealing with the challenges faced by separating parties and we actively seek to assist in reducing conflict wherever possible.

The process has now been made less acrimonious with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which allows for a more amicable and straightforward process.

What is a no fault divorce/dissolution?

The ending of a marriage or civil partnership no longer requires any evidence of wrongdoing by either party. Essentially, it removes the requirement for one party to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership or for there to be a lengthy period of separation. Prior to 6 April 2022 our legislation in England and Wales required one party to prove that the marriage or civil partnership had irretrievably broken down by relying on one of five facts for marriage and one of four facts for civil partnerships, namely:

  • Adultery (marriage only);
  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Desertion for a continuous period of at least two years;
  • Two years separation with the consent of the other party;
  • Five years separation.

If neither party was able to prove any of the above facts resulted in the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership, then there could be no divorce or dissolution of civil partnership.

How does a no fault divorce/dissolution work?

The new procedure for bringing a marriage or civil partnership to an end is now much more straightforward.

An application is made to the court either by one party as a sole applicant in which case the other party will be the respondent or, alternatively, as joint applicants where the parties are referred to as applicant 1 and applicant 2. The application must include a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Once the application has been issued by the court there is a minimum 20 week waiting period before any orders are made by the court to allow for a period of reflection, intended to allow greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for their future. The first order that is made after this 20 week period is referred to as a Conditional Order. This is recognition by the court that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.

Six weeks after the Conditional Order has been granted by the court application can then be made for the Conditional Order to be made Final. The Final Order brings the marriage or civil partnership to an end and both parties then revert to single person status.

The minimum time it can take for an application to be finalised is 26 weeks from the date the application is issued by the court. During this time it is advisable for the parties to resolve their respective financial claims arising from the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.

For more information on divorce, dissolution of civil partnership and financial claims arising from the breakdown of a relationship, visit our website or contact us directly on 01376 513491.