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How to File for a No Fault Divorce

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Getting divorced can be a difficult and emotionally draining process. However, with the recent changes to UK divorce law, it is now possible to file for a no fault divorce in England and Wales. This means couples can get divorced without having to blame each other or cite reasons such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act came into effect in April 2022. This legislation introduced no fault divorce to England and Wales. Under the new law, if you wish to end your marriage, the only ground you need to state is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This statement alone is enough to start the divorce process. You no longer have to provide evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour by your spouse.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to file for a no-fault divorce in the UK, you must meet certain requirements:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in England or Wales for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
  • Your marriage must have lasted at least one year before applying for a divorce.
  • You must have valid grounds for divorce, i.e. an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

If you meet these criteria, you can proceed with filing for a no-fault divorce.

Starting the Process

The process of applying for a no fault divorce is straightforward. Here are the key steps:

1. File a Divorce Petition

The first step is to complete a ‘divorce petition’ form. This sets out your intention to divorce your spouse. On the form, you simply need to confirm that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

2. Pay the Court Fee

When you submit your divorce petition to the court, you must pay a £593 court fee. There are certain exemptions that allow you to pay a reduced fee or no fee at all.

3. Serve the Documents

Once the court has reviewed your petition, they will send you a notice confirming your divorce can proceed. You must then serve a copy of the notice along with blank copies of the acknowledgement of service form to your spouse.

4. Complete the Acknowledgement of Service

Your spouse must complete the acknowledgement of service form and return it within seven days. This confirms they have received the divorce papers.

The Divorce Process Timeline

Once the acknowledgment of service has been returned, here is a general timeline for the divorce process:

  • 6 weeks – You can apply for the decree nisi. This confirms the court agrees to the divorce in principle.
  • 6 weeks + 6 weeks – You apply for the decree absolute. This legally finalises the divorce.
  • Total time – A no-fault divorce typically takes 4-6 months to complete if amicable. It may take longer if disputes arise over finances, property, or children.

Getting Legal Advice

Navigating the intricacies of divorce law can be confusing, especially with the recent changes. It’s also wise to remember that while no fault divorce is now possible in England and Wales, it isn’t yet in Scotland or Northern Ireland. It is therefore advisable to speak to P.A. Duffy & Co for expert legal advice when filing for divorce in Belfast. Their team of skilled family lawyers can provide guidance on the process outside of England and Wales and ensure your rights are protected.

Filing for a no-fault divorce under the new UK law is simpler than proving fault-based grounds like adultery. However, the legal process can still be complex without proper guidance. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer ensures you complete all the steps properly and minimises conflict with your ex-partner. Taking the right legal advice from the start allows you to achieve the fastest, most amicable resolution.

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