It is expected that the new no-fault divorce procedure will be implemented on 6th April 2022. This means that it will no longer be necessary to allege unreasonable behaviour, adultery or have a period of separation in order to obtain a divorce. Instead, it will simply be based on the fact that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
One advantage of the current system is the speed at which it is possible to obtain a divorce. All divorces must now be commenced online and the whole procedure could be concluded within 12 to 16 weeks. However, under the new procedure, once the petition has been issued, the parties will have to wait a number of weeks before being able to finalise it and it is likely to take at least 7 months for the divorce to be concluded overall.
The new procedure allows couples to jointly apply for a divorce, but that cannot be done at present. Furthermore, the new divorce cannot be contested (as no reason has to be given) whereas a petition under the current procedure can be defended by the other spouse. This is costly and can delay the divorce by many months.
The costs position will be the same under the new procedure, which means that the spouse starting the divorce will still be entitled to claim their costs against the other party. This is despite the grounds for divorce effectively being removed.
A lot of the terminology will be changed from April and this may be more user friendly, which is especially helpful if a Solicitor is not instructed.
There may be financial reasons why it would not be advisable to wait until April to commence proceedings, including lack of transparency about assets or the risk of bankruptcy.
The intention behind the no fault-based procedure is to provide a more amicable solution for separating parties, leading to reduced conflict and allowing for more focus on other matters such as children and financial issues.
Taylor Bracewell Family team are here to help with any issues you are currently having in respect of your separation. Please call us on 01302 341414.