The 6th April 2022 heralded a landmark reform in the law in England and Wales with the introduction of the ‘No Fault Divorce’. Prior to this, the party bringing proceedings had to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage by relying on the other persons adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation plus consent or five years separation.
The new law however has introduced a much needed new system in which the ‘blame game’ has been removed allowing couples to sign either a sole or joint statement simply confirming that the marriage has come to an end. This statement alone is deemed by the court as conclusive evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and enables the court to make an order for divorce.
Although the new law has introduced a quicker, less acrimonious and simpler process for married couples to separate, the new law only ends the marriage and does not sever the ongoing financial claims between the parties which have to be dealt with separately from the divorce. Couples therefore still have to sort out their finances including what happens to the family home, pensions, business interests and whether there should be any ongoing financial ties e.g. spousal maintenance. If the parties wish to sever all future financial claims, including spousal maintenance, then part of the agreement will also include a ‘clean break’.
The new divorce law has introduced a minimum ‘cooling off period’ of 20 weeks between the divorce being issued and the granting of the Conditional Order (previously called the Decree Nisi) during which time it is hoped that the parties will be able to reach an agreement regarding their financial situation, although it is usual for this process to take much longer.
In many cases, couples reach a financial settlement between themselves or by utilising the mediation process however even where an agreement has been reached, it is important that the terms of the agreement are drafted into a consent order which is then filed with the court and approved by a District Judge as until approved, the agreement will not be legally binding.
Although a financial order can be drafted without professional guidance, a consent order requires technical legal language and knowledge and an order drafted by a solicitor is more likely to meet the courts criteria and thus more likely to be approved.
If you would like a free, no obligation discussion regarding financial issues arising from your divorce then please do not hesitate to contact Sue Clements on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07776 073961.