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Farah Khalid

Fault or no fault?

The introduction of a no-fault divorce means that the entire element of fault is removed therefore you cannot choose a ‘fault’ divorce. This is beneficial to couples where the breakdown of the marriage was neither party’s fault. In fact, it is common for couples to simply go their separate ways due to wanting different things. It is also hoped that removing the fault element will lead to more amicable divorces. This in turns aims to lessen the negative experience that a child may experience through the parents’ divorce and leads to easier discussions regarding financial settlements.

However, this change may not be so welcomed where one party feels the other has caused the marriage to break down. The new law means that the partner who is perceived to have caused the marriage breakdown can divorce without being held accountable for their behaviour. This can cause emotional issues for the other partner if they feel that their side of the story has not been heard.

20-week cooling off period

Between the initial application and the conditional order, the new law provides for a minimum of 20 weeks as a cooling off period. A further six weeks and one day must pass between the conditional order and final order. This means that even the quickest divorce will take at least six months to complete, although many will continue to take longer while financial and children issues are resolved.

Joint applications

Unlike the old law where there was one petitioner and one respondent to the divorce, the new law introduces joint applications. A joint application shows that both parties have mutually agreed to end the marriage. However, it is important to remember that if one party refuses to progress the divorce under a joint application then it can cause some delay. We can guide you on the options and whether a joint or sole application is best in your circumstances.

Defended divorces

Another major shift with the new law is that defended divorces are now a thing of the past. The only time you may be able to dispute a divorce is if there have been procedural errors in the application, there are questions regarding the validity of the marriage or there is a jurisdictional issue. This is likely to be extremely rare.  The inability to defend a divorce is particularly important in domestic abuse cases as the victim will no longer be trapped in an unwanted and dangerous marriage.

At Boyes Turner, we fully welcome the new change in the law.  Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist family law team for further information who would be delighted to assist you.

Get in touch

If you have any questions relating to this article or have any legal matters you would like to discuss, please contact the family team.

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