No Fault Divorce Mythbuster

Lucy Nicholson
Lucy Nicholson
Family Law Solicitor

The No Fault Divorce Bill has revolutionised the way couples looking for an amicable separation can get a divorce. But as with any big change, its introduction has brought with it a number of misconceptions.

If you’ve been looking into the process of getting a no fault divorce, you’ll likely have been overwhelmed with information and it can be difficult to know what to believe.

We’ve outlined the most common myths we’ve seen surrounding the new legislation below. For further advice, get in touch with our expert Divorce Solicitors.

Call us on 0808 239 3465 or request a callback

Five Myths Surrounding No Fault Divorce

1- No Fault Divorce is an Easy Option

One of the most common misconceptions around the No Fault Divorce legislation is that it will make it “too easy” for couples to get divorced. This is largely due to the fact that separating couples no longer need to use one of five facts to prove their marriage has “irretrievably broken down”.

Many people have expressed concern that this could lead to people getting so called “quickie divorces” but it’s unlikely that the new legislation will noticeably speed up the divorce process in reality as the Government has implemented a “period of reflection” for separating couples.

This means couples seeking a divorce will now need to wait a minimum of 20 weeks before applying for a Conditional Order (previously the Decree Nisi). Once the Conditional Order has been granted, there will be an additional wait of six weeks and one day before an application can be made for the Final Order (previously known as the Decree Absolute).

2- Only One Person Can Apply for a No Fault Divorce

Under the new No Fault Divorce legislation, a joint application can be made for divorce. For couples separating amicably, the ability to apply for divorce together is especially important as it allows both parties to start legal proceedings on equal footing.

But there is still the option for one person to apply for divorce if there’s a disagreement as to whether the marriage has broken down. If you are the person applying for divorce, you will be known as the “applicant” and your spouse will become the “respondent”.

In cases where one person is applying for the divorce, a copy of the application will be sent to the respondent for acknowledgement. They will then have 14 days to respond to the Court and confirm that they are happy to go forward.

3- No Fault Divorce Threatens the Sanctity of Marriage

Since the announcement of the No Fault Divorce Bill, concerns have been raised that the new legislation might lead people to seek a divorce before working to “fix” their marriage.

But it’s important to remember that whilst the No Fault Divorce legislation will take away some of the unnecessary bureaucracy involved in the divorce process, it won’t take away the emotional pain of splitting up.

Although the new legislation has arguably made getting a divorce a more straightforward process, it is still not something to be taken lightly. For most couples considering divorce, their marriage will already be beyond the point of repair, so staying together would likely result in further emotional damage for everyone involved.

Here are just a few of the benefits the new legislation brings:

  • taking away the blame factor can lessen the stress of divorce for everyone involved, including children;
  • a focus can be placed on important matters like how your children will be looked after and how any finances will be handled;
  • it offers an uncomplicated process for people to remove themselves from abusive marriages.
4- Having a No Fault Divorce Will Affect my Financial Settlement

In order to separate yourself from your ex-spouse financially after a divorce, you’ll need to obtain an order which also deals with your financial claims against the other person. The no fault divorce legislation won’t affect your financial claims or how you choose to distribute any joint assets.

No matter what your financial situation is, it remains essential that you obtain a Financial Order from the Court because the claims that arise naturally from your marriage will not be dealt with just because you get a divorce and they will remain open.

Even if there are no finances to be dealt with you should still try and get a clean break consent order - this will make sure that your future wealth is protected, and your ex cannot make any claims against your estate that could create issues for your new family.   

We hope that the new legislation will help divorcing couples reach an amicable agreement on their finances sooner and with fewer complications, taking away the need for the separation of assets to be decided by the Court.

5- No Fault Divorce is All About Removing the “Blame Game”

The most noticeable change brought by the no fault divorce legislation has undoubtedly been the removal of the “blame game” associated with divorce. But this is by no means the only difference to have been made.

As the Open Lawyers, we’ve been pleased to see the shift towards clearer and more understandable terminology under the new legislation. Some of the main changes in language include:

  • the Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute have now been replaced by the Conditional Order and the Final Order;
  • where one person has applied for divorce, they are now the “applicant” rather than the “petitioner”;
  • in joint applications, divorcing couples will be referred to as “applicant one” and “applicant two”.

There will also be changes to the technology used in the divorce process which we hope will bring more efficiency. Email addresses will increasingly be used as the main contact method for each party and there will be an emphasis placed on the HMCT’s online platform for processing each divorce.

Separating Together

Traditionally, couples have been told they need to use two separate Lawyers to deal with their finances, often because each person in the relationship will have different feelings and ideas around the separation.

But if you’re seeking an amicable divorce, Separating Together could be a better option for you. This service is unique to Simpson Millar and offers a cheaper, quicker and more respectful way of divorcing. 

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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