No fault divorce – is it working?
In the weeks following the introduction of no fault divorce here in England and with the first divorces due to be finalised shortly, how is the system working?
Despite there being a few initial technical glitches with the online portal for some users, which to be fair is expected with the roll out of any major new system, it is working well, easy to use and user friendly. The overall process is largely giving our clients more opportunity and greater flexibility, which will be a great relief at a difficult time in their lives.
Most of the couples who we are currently working with are applying for the divorce jointly and sharing the fees, but in more acrimonious situations, there are some who prefer to be Respondents with their spouse initiating the divorce as a Sole Applicant. You can apply individually and the lack of cooperation from your former spouse is no longer a barrier to the divorce progressing quickly within the six month time frame.
The 20 week cooling off period is a useful time to use to negotiate and finalise financial arrangements prior to the consent order being submitted. For those who have already reached a financial agreement however, the 20 weeks may seem like an unnecessary wait. It is a good time however to raise any further questions about anything you are not sure about.
A word of caution for those who do not use a solicitor, they may not fully understand the longer term implications of divorcing without understanding all their financial rights, particularly in relation to pension sharing which is often overlooked. It is therefore important to jointly resolve all financial issues within the timeframe or seek advice if you do not understand what you are being asked to agree to.
We are still getting enquiries from some clients who would like specific grounds to be listed for the divorce, typically where one party feels they have been particularly wronged, but there really is no reason now to try and delay the process and cause additional expense, as the other party could just go ahead and file an individual claim under the new process.
Mediation is still mandatory prior to applying to the court if the couple cannot reach agreement about finances or children, (unless there has been domestic violence in the marriage) but most people want to avoid this route and will try to reach an agreement with the help of their solicitor.
The collaborative law approach that we also offer here at Gullands, where all parties with their solicitor can negotiate and reach an agreement in an amicable way still has a place. This can also help with maintaining a more amicable and longer-term relationship with your former spouse which can be useful where you have children together.
We are happy to chat through your questions about no fault divorce and offer an initial fixed fee consultation service, so get in touch to book one today.