Your most common questions about no-fault divorce answered
A few months ago, it was announced that the UK would be introducing legislation that would remove fault from the divorce process. In other words, when filing for a divorce, it will no longer be necessary for the filing party (the Petitioner) to blame the Respondent (the spouse not making the application) by stating that they have either committed adultery or behaved unreasonably if they have been living separately for less than two years.
Following on from this announcement, Quickie Divorce have been inundated with queries about how these changes will affect the divorce procedure, various rules, court fees and more. Well, we’re helpful by nature here at Quickie Divorce so we thought we’d write a post answering the questions we’re being asked most regularly:
When will no-fault divorce come into effect?
The need to wait for two years before it’s possible to divorce without blaming one spouse is a cause of great frustration for many couples eager for a fresh start. It’s also one of the main reasons that the law is to change – but when will new laws come into effect?
Sadly, it’s not possible to provide a concrete answer to this question. Justice secretary David Gauke announced in April that the relevant legislation would be introduced ‘as soon as parliamentary time becomes available’ but not actual date – or even an approximation – has been forthcoming.
Basically, no one actually knows when parliament will find the time to vote on such legislation and, apparently, MPs are quite tied up with something called ‘Brexit’ at the moment, so we wouldn’t expect it to happen any time soon. There’s some good news, though: it’s believed that the legislation should be voted through with very little opposition – you know, when parliament do find the time to deal with it.
Will there be a waiting period before we can file for divorce?
Yes. Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but reports indicate that couples will be required to wait six months before they’re able to file for divorce.
We’d imagine that this will mean that a couple will have to have been living separately for six months before the courts will consider an application for divorce. You can find out exactly what living separately means when placed in the context of a divorce application here.
Will there be any changes to the court fees for divorce?
Currently, when filing for a divorce, the Petitioner is required to pay a fee in order to cover the court’s administrative costs. This fee stands at £550 but most people are entitled to a discount and some do not need to pay it at all. You can find out if you’re exempt from the court fee for a divorce here.
Logically, as the divorce process will be simplified following no-fault divorce having become law, you would assume that this fee will fall. Nothing has been proposed, though, and – whilst it would seem both fair and just to do so – we doubt these prohibitively high costs are likely to change alongside the law.
Do I have to wait if I want a divorce without blame?
Not necessarily, no. If both parties want a divorce and they’ve been living separately for more than two years, they can obtain a divorce without the need to blame either party.
When filing on the grounds of two-year-separation with consent, the Petitioner is not required to provide any information as to why they and their spouse separated; all that is required is the date on which they began living separate lives. As no further information is required, neither party need be blamed for the breakdown of the marriage and no-fault is present as a result.
Will the Respondent still be able to contest the divorce?
Yes, but whilst they can currently contest a divorce application for no reason other than not wanting their marriage to be legally dissolved, the process of contesting a divorce is expected to become more structured. This means that only specific reasons for contesting an application will be deemed acceptable.
As very few Respondents actually contest the divorce and instead halt the process by simply not acknowledging they’re received a D10 form from the court, it’s widely anticipated that this portion of the divorce process will change too.
Will spouses be able to make joint applications?
It’s not yet been confirmed, but several reports indicate that changes to divorce law will incorporate procedures for couples who want to file for a divorce jointly.
Considering that the main goal of this new legislation will be to reduce the conflict that can come about because of a divorce, allowing couples to give notice of their desire to end their marriage jointly seems like a good decision to us.