No Fault Divorce – Your Questions Answered
At RWK Goodman, we appreciate that divorce can be a daunting and stressful process and many people are confused about the forthcoming changes to the law.
Kirsty Henderson, a solicitor in the London Family team, answers some FAQs below on the new no-fault divorce to help you get to grips with the basics.
What is no-fault divorce?
On 6 April 2022, no-fault divorce was introduced.
The main changes to the divorce law include:
- Spouses will not need to rely on a ‘fact’ such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour, or a period of separation
- A 6-month minimum waiting period will be introduced before a Final Order can be made
- Spouses will be able to make a joint application for a divorce
- It will not be possible to defend a divorce
- The terminology will be updated:
How can I get a no-fault divorce?
Firstly, you will need to make a sole or joint application to the Court in which you will confirm that your marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. Once the application has been issued, served if necessary, and the relevant time periods have elapsed, you will have to apply for a Conditional Order and then a Final Order.
What if my spouse does not want a divorce?
It does not matter if your spouse does not want a divorce as they will not be able to defend your application.* The court will not force you to remain married.
How long does it take to get a no-fault divorce?
Obtaining a Divorce Order (the final stage) will take a minimum of 6 months, although the reality is that it will take longer than this due to procedural steps and court delays. Once the divorce application has been issued, you must then wait 20 weeks before you can apply for a Conditional Order which is essentially the halfway house to divorce. After the Conditional Order has been made, you will need to wait a further 6 weeks before you can apply for the Final Order. Once the Final Order has been made you will then be divorced.
Should I make a sole application or joint application?
If your spouse does not want a divorce, is not being co-operative or there has been domestic abuse, it may be advisable to make a sole application. However, if you and your spouse remain amicable and both want a divorce there is no reason why you should not make a joint application. This will need to be decided at the start of the process and you should be aware that sole applicants will not be able to change their application to a joint one once it has been issued.
How much does a no-fault divorce cost?
The Court fee for a divorce is currently £593. If either spouse obtains legal advice throughout the divorce process, this will be an additional cost.
Who has to pay for the divorce?
A spouse who makes a sole application will have to pay the court fee upfront and for any legal advice they require. However, it is possible to apply to claim back all or part of these costs at a later stage. If a joint application is made, spouses can agree between them who will pay or how the cost will be split.
Can I get a no-fault divorce online?
Yes, you will be able to use the online service to apply for a no-fault divorce within England and Wales.
If you are considering or going through separation, please do get in touch if you would like some legal advice. We will be happy to speak with you in confidence and provide a free 30-minute initial consultation to see how we can assist.
*Please note that the application can only be disputed on grounds such as jurisdiction, validity, or the subsistence of the marriage. Proceedings may also be challenged on the ground of fraud or procedural non-compliance.