The Process and Timelines For A No-Fault Divorce

no-fault divorce
The Process and Timelines For A No-Fault Divorce

On April 6, 2022, the law regarding divorce was revised. Here we discuss the modifications to divorce procedures and timeframes, as well as address the concerns of couples who are already in the midst of the divorce process.

What am I required to do?

People seeking a divorce will no longer be required to provide evidence to the court to prove that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. Instead, the court will take as sufficient evidence a statement from either or both spouses.

If both you and your partner agree that your relationship has broken down but you wish to maintain cordial relations, you may jointly petition for divorce. You are both referred to as ‘applicants’ instead of ‘applicant’ and ‘respondent’.

Alternatively, a single individual can file for divorce. This does not necessarily imply that your case will be less amicable, as no fault is assigned in this procedure. It does, however, imply that the applicant has more control over how quickly the application is processed.

The new 20-week waiting period before the conditional order stage is intended to allow divorcing couples time to reflect after the court issues the divorce petition. This is the time when you may submit an application to the court requesting that, barring exceptional circumstances, you be granted a divorce after a second waiting period. It enables them to arrange the finances.

If there is only one applicant, they may submit an application for the conditional order on their own. In a joint application, applicants can jointly request a conditional order. If relations have deteriorated and one party does not wish to submit the application, the other party may submit the request alone. This application must be served on the other applicant, who becomes the ‘respondent’ for the remainder of the proceedings.

There is a mandatory six-week waiting period after the conditional order before you can petition for the final order, which formally dissolves your marriage or civil partnership. If there are multiple applicants, they may submit a joint application for the final order. If there is only one applicant (and the initial application was made jointly), they must provide 14 days’ notice to the other party (who becomes the respondent) of their intention to apply for the final order. The applicant may provide notice and request a conditional order in a sole application. If they fail to do so within three months of being permitted to do so, the respondent may submit an application on their behalf.

How long will this process take?

As described previously, there is a 20-week delay period after the application is issued. A second mandatory waiting period of six weeks must elapse after the conditional order before the final order can be requested. This means that the minimum time required to obtain a divorce is six months. Unfortunately, this does not account for court processing periods, which can vary significantly; therefore, it is prudent to anticipate a delay.

I am already in the divorce procedure; what will happen to my case?

If your divorce proceedings are already underway, you may be concerned about whether they are still valid and what this reform entails. The government has a plan, which is encouraging. Your divorce will proceed under the previous system. If your case proceeds to its conclusion, you will still receive a decree absolute. If you wanted to restart the proceedings to convert the divorce to a “no-fault” divorce, you would have to pay a fee for an application to withdraw your current proceedings as well as the court costs for filing new proceedings.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
2nd August 2022
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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