Divorce (Marriage and Civil Partnership Breakdown)
Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage and is only open to couples who have a legally recognised marriage and who have been married for at least a year.
No-fault divorce was introduced in April 2022 which means that couples can apply for a divorce, civil partnership or legal separation without having to blame the other person. The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This means that it is a much more straightforward and amicable approach to separation. It also means that it cannot be contested, except in extremely limited circumstances.
A sole application can be made by one spouse. The application will be made online by issuing an application (previously known as a petition) and the other spouse is asked to confirm receipt of the application by sending an acknowledgement back to the court.
Alternatively, if both parties agree, they can make a joint application for the divorce. The application is issued in their joint names, with them both confirming to the court that they agree to the divorce proceeding.
There is a 20-week waiting period from the date the application is issued by the court before a conditional order (previously known as a decree nisi) can be applied for. There is then a further 6-week waiting period after the conditional order has been pronounced before an application can be made for the final order (previously known as a decree absolute). On pronouncement of the final order, the parties are divorced and cease to be married.
Whilst the no-fault divorce process does make the process of divorce much more straightforward, it is important to seek advice from experienced solicitors who can advise you on the best way forward and guide you through the process. Furthermore, divorce is simply the process of changing your marital status from being married to divorced and does not resolve issues that relate to the arrangements for your children or financial matters. It is extremely important that advice is sought about these issues at an early stage, since the timing of when you apply for a final order could be crucial, depending on your financial circumstances.
Civil Partnership and Same Sex Marriages
Same-sex couples who register their partnership under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 have many of the same rights, privileges and legal redress as married couples.
If the relationship breaks down, registered partnerships also have the same financial remedies currently available to couples who divorce. This gives the courts the power, for example, to make maintenance, property, lump sum, and pension sharing orders.
There are also other provisions dealing with child maintenance assessments, immigration and nationality, employment and pension benefits on death, and fatal accident compensation. On entering a civil relationship, a pre-existing Will becomes void, so you will to need to make a new one.
Talk to Tollers
The experience we’ve gained over the years means we have the sensitivity, empathy, skills and knowledge to advise on the breakdown of any relationship. If you need help and advice and are unsure where to start or would like to arrange an initial consultation. Get in touch with our Family law team, and they will be happy to assist.