With so much media coverage on the proposed changes to the current divorce laws in place within England and Wales, it’s natural for separated couples to be curious about the new ‘no fault’ divorce. With the number one question being – should I delay petitioning my divorce until the new legislation becomes law?
Well, whether you should wait or not will be dependent on the unique circumstances around your separation. So, if you’re unsure what to do, feel free to book a free consultation with The Divorce Manager, where we can guide you on the best plan for your separation.
What is a ‘No Fault’ Divorce?
A ‘no fault’ divorce is exactly what it sounds like, with couples being able to state that they believe their marriage cannot be fixed. This will be the same as citing ‘irretrievable breakdown’ as your sole reason for giving the court notice on your divorce. However, the crucial difference here is that you no longer need to give the reasons or evidence for this breakdown.
While in the past, you would have needed to write a behaviour statement, which outlines the circumstances that led to your decision to separate, such as adultery. When the new ‘no fault’ divorce becomes law in England and Wales, couples will no longer need to list the evidence for the marriage breakdown.
Are There Other Differences with a ‘No Fault’ Divorce?
Like other divorce procedures, there will still be two distinct stages to your separation once the court has received your notice. These are called the Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute. Like now, you will also be able to give the court notice of your divorce petition as a couple or as an individual.
The main difference is that there will no longer be a contest option in a ‘no fault’ divorce. Rather, when one party wants a divorce, that divorce will occur.
Once your divorce notice has been given, you will have a ‘cool down’ period of at least six months before your separation is legalised in the courts.
When Will the ‘No Fault’ Divorce Become Law?
At the moment, although ‘no fault’ divorces will become law, there is going to a waiting game as the Bill will not be passed until parliamentary time allows. This is a vague timeline for couples, as it may take numerous months for this divorce type to become law.
It’s also important to note that the ‘no fault’ Bill may go through many changes before it becomes law. For instance, there might be alterations to the notice period that couples have to give for their divorce.
Will a ‘No Fault’ Divorce be Quicker Than Other Options?
Whether a ‘no fault’ divorce will be quicker will depend on your circumstances. For one, if you plan to divorce your partner citing their behaviour – such as adultery – and your partner agrees to sign the divorce papers then your divorce could be legalised quicker. With a ‘no fault’ divorce, the proposed reflection period is six months, while an agreed behaviour divorce might be as quick as three or four months.
On the other hand, for those waiting on a separation time to pass, such as two years, then this new divorce option will be a far quicker option.
Should I Wait for the ‘No Fault’ Law to Pass?
Although it might be tempting to wait for the ‘no fault’ divorce option to be legalised in England and Wales, there is no guarantee when the Bill will be passed. So, depending on your circumstances, it may not be prudent to play the waiting game.
For couples who need a financial consent order within their divorce, these orders can only become legally binding once your separation reaches the stage of Decree Nisi. With the proposed six month reflection period in a ‘no fault’ divorce, you may end up waiting a longer time for your order to be finalised.
When you own property, tax implications may occur if you decide to wait to petition your divorce. This is particularly important if one party has moved out of the property.
If I Do Wait, How Can I Protect Myself During a Separation?
If you do choose to wait, it’s important to consider getting a separation agreement. This agreement will outline what will happen to your finances during this period of separation before your divorce. This order cannot be enforced legally by a court automatically if one party deviates, however, it can be shown to a court to outline what you both previously agreed.
If you need help with your divorce or separation call The Divorce Manager on 0800 294 0452 to book your FREE consultation.