Will No-Fault Divorce Affect My Financial Settlement?

12 January 2023
Before the 6th April 2022, it was not possible to obtain a no-fault divorce. Now couples can file for a divorce/civil partner dissolution without having to place any blame on their former partner with regards to the breakdown of their relationship. For the first time ever, couples can apply for a divorce jointly and it will no longer be possible to defend the decision to divorce if only one person has applied (other than in very limited circumstances).
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We have put together some information surrounding what is involved in a no-fault divorce and how it affects your financial settlement, but it’s always best to seek professional support from a solicitor for advice tailored more specifically to your unique circumstances. 

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault or no-blame divorce tends to be a much more straightforward approach for separating couples, and is typically a lot more courteous, so this change in the law has been long-awaited and will make a significant difference to the process. The no-fault divorce has eliminated the condition that a couple must establish at least one fact, such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or be separated for a period of time in order to prove irretrievable breakdown of the marriage..

 Applications for a no-fault divorce can be made online and all that is required are the names and addresses of both parties as well as the original copy or a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

Couples will still need to make separate arrangements surrounding things like finances, child residence and maintenance, and an ongoing parenting plan. 

How Long Does a No-Fault Divorce Take?

There are three stages in the process of a no-fault divorce which consist of the original application for the divorce, obtaining a conditional order, and obtaining a final order. A conditional order is a document that states that the court sees no reason why the divorce cannot proceed. It’s essentially legal confirmation that you are entitled to a divorce, but you are still married until you receive the final order. The final order legally ends your marriage, but it is usually advisable to wait until financial arrangements have been formalised to avoid any ongoing  financial prejudice to either party. Once you obtain your final order you are no longer married and free to marry again if you wish.

There is a minimum overall time frame of 26 weeks for the entire process to allow the couple a time of reflection and the potential to resolve any practical arrangements for the future, whether they be related to children or finances etc. This involves a 20 week waiting period between the application and obtainment of the conditional order followed by a 6 week waiting period for the obtainment of the final order. However, the time that the process actually takes to finalise the requested divorce will depend on personal circumstances and is different from couple to couple. 

What If There Are Financial Claims?

Divorce and financial matters have always been approached separately, albeit side by side, so your divorce should not affect your financial settlement as it’s an independent issue. The final order of Divorce will only dissolve the marriage.  It will not resolve the financial claims that  either of you might have against one another, which is why it is wise to make these arrangements before the final order is obtained. 

If you have wealth tied up in pensions, business assets, properties, or savings and investments, it is up to you to decide with your former spouse how these assets will be shared upon divorce. Hopefully you will be able to agree on this amicably. A financial order must be obtained from the court alongside the divorce order, otherwise these financial issues will be left unresolved and claims can be made later down the line. This would be incredibly risky and create a high level of uncertainty, which you’ll likely want to lay to rest as soon as possible so that you can all move on. 

Separation and divorce is usually an emotional time for anyone involved, especially if you have children, but at John Fowlers Solicitors we can help make the process as seamless as possible. We can help you make plans for any children you might have, changing your will if necessary, as well as advising and assisting you on how to deal with your finances and assets. If you’re confused or unsure about anything, our specialist lawyers can offer you professional advice on how to proceed.