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HomeLegal InsightLeading Law Firm Analyses “No-Fault Divorce”, Terms It Beneficial For Divorcing Families

Leading Law Firm Analyses “No-Fault Divorce”, Terms It Beneficial For Divorcing Families

Traditionally, divorces were very contentious since couples were required to identify faults within their partner to get one.

The result?

  • A highly stressful and challenging process whereby couples often saw no other option but to lie about why they wanted a divorce
  • The bad blood between the spouses and psychological trauma affecting the involved parties

However, all that has changed thanks to the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, which gives UK citizens the right to easy separation.

Here, legal experts from Winckworth Sherwood – a leading UK law firm, analyse the impact of this legislation and highlight the key elements that make it beneficial for couples intending to part ways.

No-fault divorce only requires one spouse to believe that the marriage is broken and that there is no hope for reconciliation. Thus, both partners can agree and move on with their lives without engaging in a blame game.

No-fault divorce has transformed the nature of divorce in more ways than one. Here is a brief outline of some key elements surrounding the legislation:

Modernising language

The language that divorce lawyers are required to use has been simplified. Specific phrases have been modernised, such as “petition” changing to “apply” and “decree nisi” to “conditional order”. This makes the whole divorce process more accessible and, in turn, less daunting for couples.

Joint applications

Divorce no longer needs to be a single application process. Now, if they choose to, couples can apply for a divorce together, ensuring they leave their marriage as equals rather than as an applicant and respondent. This is beneficial for couples who remain on good terms.

Service

Technology is taking centre stage in the divorce process. It is now possible for the divorce application to be served on the respondent by email. This seems to be a logical progression for the courts in the technological age.

Timing

To compensate for the removal of blame, the divorce process now takes around six months to complete. There must be a minimum of 20 weeks between the application and the conditional order and another six weeks between the conditional offer and the final ranking.

Defended divorces

Defended divorces are a thing of the past. It is now more difficult to dispute a divorce, and it can only be done on limited grounds relating to the marriage’s validity or the court’s jurisdiction.

How is no-fault divorce impacting the divorce process?

Not only has no-fault divorce transformed the legalities of divorce, but it may also have a lasting impact on divorce rates and the emotional challenges people face. Here’s a more detailed look at these two factors:

No-fault divorce has changed the divorce process in several ways.

Increasing divorce rates

The effects of no-fault divorce were apparent within the blink of an eye. HM Courts & Tribunals Services (HMCTS) reported that there were 3000 applications for a no-fault divorce within the first week of introducing the law. This is a 50% rise from the previous weekly average.

Despite the surge following the introduction of no-fault divorce, research from surrounding countries suggests that these rates will stabilise over time. Divorce rates peaked at 13,000 after Scotland introduced similar legislation in 2006, although they decreased after a while and continue to do so.

Decreasing emotional challenges

Often, divorces result in children being caught in the middle of their parent’s fighting, potentially causing emotional damage to the children. With no-fault divorce, couples gain the ability to divorce without involving their children in the process.

Hannah Gumbrill-Ward, Solicitor at Winckworth Sherwood, has commented on the changing emotional processes of divorce:

“Official statistics surrounding the ongoing effects on divorce rates are not available. However, there’s no doubt that no-fault divorce has decreased the specific emotional challenges families face. Solicitors are seeing the positive impacts of this process, reducing the amount of conflict and stress couples experience at the outset of their separation. 

Research shows that children experience a 16 per cent rise in emotional problems while their parents or guardians go through a divorce, no doubt due to the ongoing stress of the process. A no-fault divorce can potentially lessen the burden on family members, as well as the spouses filing for legal separation.”

Although no-fault divorce is still in its early stages, professionals within the industry are hopeful, considering the long-term positive effects of the legislation.

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