Since the changes to divorce law were introduced in April 2022, we have had some positive feedback when working with the new No Fault divorce approach. While it is still early days in terms of clients finalising divorce under the new law, working with the new systems and processes is providing an overall positive experience.
Here is a recap of the No Fault Divorce changes that were introduced on 6 April 2022:
- You no longer need to provide instances of ‘unreasonable behaviour or evidence of two-year separation
- The new law removes the ability to defend (a few exceptions) the applicant’s decision to divorce or end the civil partnership
- Both parties to the marriage can now make a joint application to end their marriage
- The length of time it takes to get a divorce is extended from 4 months to around 7 months
- The names of the parties are changing as well as what the applications are called
- All applications will now be dealt with online.
You can read about the changes in full on the Law Society’s website here.
Key benefits of the No Fault Divorce rules
There are some powerful benefits unfolding and they can be grouped under a number of key areas.
Improved client communications
In the past, waiting for updates and chasing updates has been a source of frustration for clients and solicitors alike. The new system stores everything in one place on a central online portal. We can log in and see the exact status of a divorce and give a clear update to our clients on where their divorce is within the process and what to expect next. This provides clarity for clients and reduces the stress often felt when chasing updates.
Less wasted time
The old process sometimes relied on documentation being sent by post, which lengthened the overall timeline of a divorce. Now the majority of applications are done online through a central portal, meaning there is no extra time added waiting for the post to be received and processed.
Getting divorced can be stressful enough, but under the old laws this was compounded by the need to apportion blame to one of the parties in order for the divorce to proceed (unless the parties had been separated for 2+ years). Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the new approach is that we no longer need to apportion blame as part of the process. While this obviously doesn’t change what happens at home between the married couple, it does mean that there is no need to formalise this legally. This has resulted in a lot of saved time and energy by both parties as well as the solicitor, not to mention a reduction in costs associated with the divorce when agreement couldn’t be reached easily.
Improved Financial Negotiations
Due to the no fault process and reduced confict outlined above we are finding that couples are starting their financial negotiations from a much more neutral position, than they would if they had apportioned blame for the divorce which often resulted in bad feeling. Overall, the financial negotiations are now starting from a more amicable footing than they have done in the past.
Are there any down sides to the new No Fault Divorce Laws?
While most of the signs are positive for the new approach, the fact that it is all done online and requires a level of technical proficiency a well as an email address could prove prohibitive for some clients, particularly the older generations who perhaps haven’t adopted email as a communication method. The online portal itself, while it has massively improved the processes involved, could still prove complicated to anyone trying to navigate a divorce without the support of a solicitor. The portal is now second nature for solicitors to use but for client’s using it for the first time, it may not feel straightforward and there are still some technical questions that could be answered incorrectly.
Here at Rucklidge Law we are experts in family law, which includes Divorce and financial settlements. We offer a free initial consultation, so please do get in touch and we would be happy to chat with you.