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New legislation came into force on April 6th 2022 which allows married couples and civil partners to separate without having to apportion blame. This is known as No Fault Divorce. It allows family breakdown to unfold more amiably, by removing unnecessary heat at an early stage.
Historically, couples had to wait a significant period of time before they could divorce unless they were prepared to tell the court that their marriage had broken down for one of the following reasons:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two years' separation with the Respondent’s consent
- Five years' separation
It meant that from the outset, couples were either blaming in each other, or in limbo, waiting at least two years before being able to set foot on the path to finality. That is no longer the case.
Meet some of our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
Why Come to Simpson Millar to Help you?
If you want to separate and use the new legislation without having to apportion blame then our specialist divorce solicitors can help facilitate this. We have a number of options and routes which will depend on your circumstances. One of these is an innovative service called Separating Together which allows couples to separate using the same lawyer. This can speed up the process and save you money. It will only be suitable if your separation is amicable.
We are always transparent about our fees so there are no hidden costs or nasty surprises along the way. In many cases we can offer you a fixed price, so you know exactly what to budget for.
We offer a variety of options for appointments including telephone and video calls – whatever suits you best.
For initial legal advice contact our Family Law Solicitors.
Other changes which come in with No Fault Divorce:
- You can now make a joint application with your spouse, so that you move forward on an equal footing.
- You will now have a 20 week cooling off period from the point at which you make the application, giving you time to reflect before you re-confirm your intention to formally separate.
- The divorce process could be quicker. Now that the reason for the separation doesn’t need to be included in the paperwork, it’s more likely that divorces will proceed at an improved pace.
- The legal jargon has been removed. For example, what used to be called a ‘Decree Nisi’ will now be called a ‘Conditional Order’ and what used to be called a ‘Decree Absolute’ will now be called a ‘Final Order’.
- The five facts previously used to demonstrate the marriage was beyond repair are now replaced with a simple statement of ‘irretrievable breakdown’.
What’s the Process you Have to go Through?
- You will either make a joint application or one party will make an application for a divorce.
- You will then have to wait for 20 weeks (the cooling off period) before you can apply for a Conditional Order.
- Once the cooling off period has passed, and your Conditional Order is granted, you will need to wait a further six weeks and one day before you can apply for the Final Order.
- Once the Final Order is granted, your marriage will be formally dissolved.
- At a minimum the process will take six months. There is no such thing as a Quickie Divorce.
- Usually, you will use the six month period to resolve any financial or children related issues that arise.
What if we want to us the same lawyer to separate?
Not all cases are suitable for Separating Together, and you’ll need to meet with one of our experts for an assessment meeting in order for us to determine if the process is right for you. If you meet the criteria, then here’s how it works:
What is the process if you use our Separating Together service?
Initial Assessment and Signing Declarations
This involves a solicitor speaking with and assessing you both separately, to ensure you and your spouse are in the right mindset to approach Separating Together in the best way. Most Importantly, we want to ensure that this is the right path for you both.
You will be asked to sign a participation agreement which sets out a framework for how you will treat each other during the process and ensures discussions remain respectful, calm and amicable.
Joint Meeting Timetable and Expectation Setting
In the first joint meeting, your solicitor will set out the process in detail and outline a plan; they will agree with you future deadlines for when each step needs to be completed. This will give you both goals to work towards. The costs will also be fixed.
We will also take some time to collate and analyse your financial information and documents.
Second Meeting and Time to Think
In the second joint meeting, your solicitor will give you their expert analysis on the settlement options available, where you can discuss which options work best for you.
This is also an opportunity for both of you to consider a range of outcomes and discuss the pros and cons of each, with professional support.
Third Meeting and Settlement
In the third meeting a financial settlement is usually agreed upon. An agreement will be written up into a court document (called a Consent Order) for you both to sign.
We will send the legal paperwork to the court to be approved and made legally binding. We will apply to finalise your divorce at this stage, too.
At this point, you can move forward with your life, safe in the knowledge that your financial agreement is legally binding and having saved money and time that will can be better spent on your future.
How Would my Matter be Funded?
At Simpson Miller we offer a range of ways to pay for your divorce which include standard and bespoke Fixed Fees as well as the traditional hourly rate. You can speak with one of our specialist family solicitors to see which is right for you. We’ll be transparent about the costs you can expect to incur.
Our standard fixed fees can be found here.
What do our clients think?
One of our most recent couples to use this service said:
Don't just take our word for it. Look at what our clients say...
For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.