Until recently, spouses applying for a divorce in the jurisdiction of England and Wales were required to cite one of five reasons when applying – and three of those reasons involved alleging that the other spouse had behaved poorly. In other words, citing one of these three commonly cited reasons meant formally blaming your husband or wife for the end of the marriage, however complex the situation may have been in reality.
Fortunately, this will soon no longer be the case. From April 6th 2022, there will be no need for accusations which may increase rancour. Instead, the spouse who makes an application for divorce need only make a formal declaration that the marriage has broken down. If you are still on relatively good terms with your estranged spouse, this declaration can even be made jointly.
In order to begin divorce proceedings:
- You must have been married for a minimum of one year.
- You must be a permanent resident of England and Wales.
- Your marriage must be recognised as legally valid in England and Wales
Because there is no longer any need to attribute blame, this new system is commonly known as ‘no fault divorce’.
In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for our Fixed Fee Divorce package. We will discuss this with you in full at your initial consultation, but for more information see DIVORCE150.
Conditional order of divorce
The next stage in the process is a conditional order of divorce. This legal document signifies that your divorce has officially begun, but you will need to wait 20 weeks before moving on to the next stage. This “period of reflection” is intended to allow each spouse time to reconsider and decide whether or not they really wish to end the marriage. Some couples do reconcile and decide to not to proceed during this time.
Final order of divorce
If at least one spouse maintains that the marriage is over, the conditional order of divorce can be upgraded to a final order of divorce at the end of that 20-week period. At that point the marriage is officially at an end. The completion of divorce will mean that tax status, inheritance rights and entitlement to state benefits will all change. Ask a Major Family Law solicitor for further information and advice.
Each stage in the no fault divorce process is straightforward and administrative in nature. The divorcing spouses apply for and respond to court paperwork. It is possible to complete the process and divorce without any legal advice. But doing so poses risks. You may settle for less than you entitled to, for example, or leave yourself vulnerable to future financial claims by your ex-husband or wife. An expert divorce solicitor can help you protect your best interests.
Finances & children
Many couples also struggle to resolve complexities like money and childcare. These crucial issues deserve careful and fair resolution with the help of a legal professional.
If the costs of legal advice are a concern, you may be eligible for our £150 fixed fee divorce package. We also provide same-sex divorce and separation representation, as well as civil partnership dissolution, for members of the LGBTQ community. For more information, see Gay Divorce and Same Sex Separation.
Why not call today and speak to one of our friendly and supportive divorce solicitors?