Your Divorce Specialists
Brookman Solicitors are expert divorce and family lawyers, situated in London and across the South East. We specialise in the full range of family legal matters including divorce in the UK and internationally, financial issues, property settlements and children’s matters. Whatever your situation, we are here to help you.
With our help, your divorce could be a reasonably straightforward procedure. We are skilled at making the divorce process as smooth as it can be whilst also being able to fight your corner if the need arises.
No-fault divorce in the UK
From its inception divorce has been a procedure associated with blame and fault. In England and Wales this is borne out by The Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 the statute that regulates divorce. Under the legislation separating couples must establish one of five grounds to divorce – three of which involve blaming the other spouse. As society has evolved, criticism has grown about this need to prove fault to end a marriage – not least because it raises the possibility of additional conflict in what may be an already fractious relationship. Following many years of political lobbying and pressure the first divorces under the no-fault procedure are set to begin in England and Wales on 6 April 2022.
At Brookman we advise on all aspects of divorce and financial settlements, including no-fault divorce. If this is something that affects you and you wish to discuss your case, contact our no-fault divorce solicitors on 44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us online. We provide a free, initial consultation without any obligation.
What is the procedure for no-fault divorce?
No fault divorce removes the need for a spouse to select one of the five reasons for the breakdown of their marriage (such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ on the part of their spouse, or adultery). Instead:
- Either or both parties to a marriage or civil partnership may apply to the court for a divorce order. The order dissolves the marriage on the sole ground that it has broken down irretrievably.
- The application for a divorce order must be accompanied by a statement by the applicant or applicants that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
- Parties can make a joint application to the court.
- The court must firstly take the statement to be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably; and secondly it must make a divorce order.
- Neither party can oppose the application.
- The divorce order is initially a ‘conditional order’ (previously this was known as a decree nisi).
- A conditional order can only be made if the applicant or applicants (previously the petitioner(s)) confirm they want the divorce to go ahead.
- This confirmation cannot be made until a minimum of 20 weeks has passed from the date on which proceedings began. This is to enable the applicant or applicants a meaningful period of reflection on the decision to divorce.
- During this 20-week period couples should discuss child arrangements and financial settlements and attempt to reach an agreement.
- After a minimum period of six weeks the conditional order may be converted into a final order (similar to the decree absolute).
No-fault divorce in practice
In practice the no-fault divorce procedure is geared toward more efficient, less acrimonious divorce cases. In particular the removal of the ability of either side to contest proceedings will reduce the likelihood of expensive, contested court applications cropping up throughout the process. It’s also hoped there will be less of an impact on children and the wider family as divorce becomes a less contentious issue. When the opportunity for bitter disputes over personal matters is reduced, couples can concentrate more productively on reaching a fair financial settlement.
Why choose our no-fault divorce solicitors
Brookman has a team of divorce specialists and family lawyers who handle all types of divorce including those with substantial or complex assets, property and children issues both in the UK and overseas.
Our offices cover the South East from London to Surrey to Sussex, but we act for clients across the UK and internationally.
We’re already well placed to handle your no-fault divorce in the UK: many of the jurisdictions in which we’ve handled cases have had no-fault divorce regimes in place for many years. Australia for example has had a no-fault system since 1975.
Should I start my divorce now or wait until no-fault divorce comes in?
The question a lot of clients are asking is whether or not they should wait until 6 April 2022 when no-fault divorce comes into force or whether they should just proceed with their divorce petition under current legislation.
Each case will depend on your own personal circumstances, and we would advise you to get legal advice before deciding how to proceed. There are however a few things to consider:
- If you and your spouse or civil partner are clear in your own minds that you wish to divorce and that obtaining the decree will be uncontentious then there is little point in waiting until 6 April. The new rules are geared above all toward reducing acrimony. If none exists and the parties agree the marriage has broken down then the current rules are an effective way to dissolve your marriage. Even if you do have to invoke one of the fault-based reasons to obtain your decree nisi, you could – like many couples in these circumstances – treat this as a formality. The grounds you cite for divorce will have no impact whatsoever on your financial settlement or how your children will be looked after following your divorce.
- If you want to get divorced sooner rather than later, waiting for no-fault divorce to come in may not be advisable. Under the new rules there is a minimum 20 week period of refle This is calculated from the date the application for a divorce order is made. There is then a further six -week waiting period between the conditional order of divorce and the final order. If your divorce is not going to be contested and the issues around your children and finances are relatively unproblematic you may wish to issue a petition immediately rather than wait until 6 April 2022.
- Again if timing is key you may wish to get ahead of what some anticipate will be an upsurge in petitions on 6 April 2022, exacerbating the existing delays in the divorce court system.
- Even if you decide to wait for no-fault divorce you and your spouse or civil partner could, with the assistance of your legal advisers, use the intervening period to reach an agreement on finances and arrangements for children. Although you won’t be able to formalise any agreement until you obtain your conditional order of divorce, a lot of the legwork can be done ahead of time ensuring that once the rules come into effect, you can obtain your divorce as efficiently as possible. It’s essential to review any informal agreement reached in this way before it gets judicial approval. That way you can satisfy yourself that assets like property and pensions have retained the values ascribed to them during your negotiations with your spouse or civil partner.
- If your partner is likely to contest your divorce or behave obstructively if you issue proceedings ahead of April 2022 on a fault basis, it is probably best to wait until the new regime comes into effect. At that point your spouse won’t be able to raise objections to your application.
If you have questions about your relationship, your options regarding divorce, or if your circumstances include complex issues, don’t hesitate to use the form below to send us the details of your situation, or you can arrange a free consultation.
Or call us: +44 (0)20 7430 8470