No Fault Divorce came into force on the 6th April 2022.
Under the new legislation, you can divorce without having to blame your spouse. Previously, parties could only apply for a Divorce if they were able to prove to the Court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of five specific facts. Under the previous system, unless you had been separated for two years and you had both agreed to get divorced, one of you had to effectively blame the other for your marriage having broken down.
Under the new legislation, as it is no longer anyone’s fault that the marriage has broken down, the Divorce application cannot be contested. The only instance in which you can contest the Divorce will be if you do not believe the marriage itself is valid.
Previously, only one spouse could make the application for Divorce. The new legislation allows both parties to apply on a joint and amicable basis for Divorce.
There are also changes to the language that will be used, for example, the first stage of Divorce, known as the Decree Nisi has been changed to the Conditional Order. You will need to wait 20 weeks after the original application is made to apply for the Conditional Order and a further 6 weeks from then to apply for the final stage of Divorce, the Decree Absolute, which is now called a Final Order.
These changes also apply to the dissolution of Civil Partnerships.
The reasoning behind these changes is that Divorce will become less complicated and less contentious.
People often believe that when you are divorced and have your Decree Absolute/Final Order you are protected financially. However, matrimonial finances are an entirely separate area of law. Even if you are divorced, your ex-spouse could still make a financial claim against you at any time in the future, even if you remarry. It is therefore extremely important that if you have a business and are getting a divorce that you obtain the appropriate legal advice.
The Court will always encourage parties to reach an agreement over their finances between themselves and to do so as amicably as possible. If an agreement can be reached, whether between the parties independently, through negotiations in mediation or through the parties' respective solicitors, it is important that this agreement is recorded within a Consent Order.
The Consent Order is like a contract between you and your ex-partner setting out how the matrimonial finances are to be settled. It is approved by the Court and is a legally binding Court Order. It protects both parties from further claims against each other both now and in the future.
It is therefore essential that the Consent Order is correctly drafted to reflect what has been agreed by the parties and to provide for a clean break if appropriate.
There is currently no time limit as to when an ex-spouse can make a claim against you. I cannot stress enough, how important it is with the new legislation making Divorce easier for people to obtain, that where you have pensions, property, savings and especially a business, you obtain legal advice as to matrimonial finances. Failing to do so could prove to be a very costly mistake in the future.
Whilst No Fault Divorce aims to change the landscape of Divorce itself, the law regarding matrimonial finances remains the same.
If you are unsure about your situation or need advice about your matrimonial finances, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Family Lawyers at Neves Solicitors by calling 0330 0945 500, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our Contact Form and we'll get back to you.