No Fault Divorce Law: How will it work?

04-03-2022


The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill or No Fault Divorce Law, will come into affect on April 6th 2022. It represents the biggest reform of divorce laws in half a century and aims to reduce the impact that allegations of blame can have on families, particularly on children. But what does this all mean and how will it work in practice?

Sole applications for no fault divorce

Anyone can apply individually for a divorce. This will be referred to as a ‘sole application’. The person applying will be known as the ‘applicant’ or ‘sole applicant’, and their spouse will be known as the ‘respondent’. The applicant will NOT be able to subsequently change to a joint application, so the decision on whether to apply solely or jointly with the other party must be made at the start.

A sole applicant can represent themselves (known as litigants in person) but where solicitors are acting for the applicant the digital service must be used.

The new paper application forms will ask for identical information as the digital system from 6 April 2022.

No defence in no fault divorce

Respondents are not able to dispute whether the marriage has broken down. In exceptional circumstances the respondent can raise a defence because-

Service

The application is ‘served’ (sent) to the respondent once issued by the court. The court will send the application to the respondent by email with a postal notification that service has taken place by email. The postal notification sent to the respondent’s address will give a link to view the application. The email address for the respondent should be an active personal email. Business emails should be avoided.

Joint applications for no fault divorce

The new law allows for joint applications and parties will be equally responsible for the application as applicant 1 and applicant 2.

How do we apply jointly?

What is the procedure for joint applications?

Where marriage/civil partnership certificates are required, they must be the original or certified copy. A certified translation must accompany foreign documents.

Should the applicant(s) wish to withdraw the application, they will need to complete form D11 and send it to the court.

The online system

Financial orders

Applications for a financial order remain unchanged. Parties are able to file an application, consent or contested, on the digital system. These can be applied for at any time during or after the divorce process.

Transitional period

Applications submitted before 31st March and issued by the court on or before 5th April will continue to progress under the existing law. This means the applicant will apply for and receive a Decree Nisi and a Decree Absolute to finalise their divorce. Therefore, if you have missed the deadline to submit by the end of this month (March 2022) there is a five day waiting period to apply for divorce in England and Wales.

There is more in-depth detail on the no fault divorce law coming into affect here on the gov.uk website.

For more information on how the new no fault divorce law could be a beneficial option for you and your family, please click here to contact Ash Sanger, Consultant in our Family Team.


Ash Sanger

Consultant
Family Law
Inheritance Protection

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