No-Fault Divorce is due to come into effect in England and Wales on 6th April 2022.
To apply for a divorce you must have been married for at least one year and the relationship has permanently broken down. Under the new law, you will be able to apply for divorce on the basis that the marriage has irretrievably broken down without the need to assign blame.
The divorce application will provide details of the parties and the marriage and can be filed by either party individually, or jointly. This means that where couples agree to a divorce, joint divorce applications will be available.
Where only one party wishes to start divorce proceedings, we will draft the divorce application and send it to the Court along with your marriage certificate and Court fee (likely to remain the same at £593).
A copy of the divorce application must be served upon your spouse within 28 days of the application being issued, although this timeframe can be extended on application if there is good reason to do so. Your spouse must then complete and return an Acknowledgement of Service Form within 14 days. It will no longer be possible for the other party to contest the divorce, although they can dispute the validity of the marriage and/or the jurisdiction of the Court. Where a joint divorce application has been made, both parties will be required to complete an Acknowledgement of Service form. Once completed a copy of this form will be sent to us.
The Conditional Order (middle stage of divorce) can be applied for individually by either party or jointly after 20 weeks have elapsed since the divorce application was issued, irrespective of whether the original application for divorce was made individually or jointly. The time for filing the Acknowledgement of Service must also have expired (i.e. after the 14 day period following service of the divorce application). Where the application was made jointly but only one party wishes to apply for the Conditional Order, a copy of the application must be served on the other party.
The Final Order (final stage of divorce) can be applied for individually or jointly after 6 weeks have elapsed since you received your Conditional Order. You may wish to do this straight away, however you may be advised not to do this until financial issues have been resolved. Where the Conditional Order was applied for jointly but only one party wishes to apply for the Final Order, notification of their intention to finalise the divorce must be served on the other party 14 days before the application is made.
Once you have received the Final Order the divorce process is complete. You will need to keep a copy of the Final Order safe as you will need it in the future and you will need to produce it if you plan to remarry. We would advise you make a new Will following your divorce.
There is a 20 week period between the divorce application being issued and the Conditional Order being applied for, and then a further 6 week period before you can apply for the Final Order. This means that overall there is a 26 week (6 month) period between the divorce application being issued and the Final Order being applied for, however it is generally advisable to delay the Final Order until the finances have been dealt with by way of a Financial Order. Once the Final Order has been received the divorce is finalised.
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