No Fault Divorce - But Be Wary

The press is full of stories about the new no fault divorce law which comes into force today (6th April). The Government brought this in to reduce the conflict between couples, and that is to be celebrated as bad feeling about the reason for the divorce would often spill over into discussions about the arrangements for children and financial matters.

In the midst of that celebration it should be remembered however that divorce is just divorce. It does not deal with the children or financial arrangements, and financial claims can continue after the divorce is final. The possibility of a financial claim can only be dismissed by a separate financial order, or in certain circumstances some financial claims are lost on remarriage.

The new no fault divorce does not change the law on children or financial arrangements and it is important that those are still considered and dealt with alongside the divorce itself.

In some ways the new divorce law may cause problems. It may take longer than the previous divorces – there is a period of 20 weeks from making the application before being able to take any further steps in the divorce. That time can be used to discuss and hopefully agree the details about the children and finances, but may not be sufficient unless there are no complications and there is a high level of agreement between the couple.

It is important therefore to consider all the issues that arise on the breakdown of a marriage, and not be carried away with the idea that it is all going to be sorted out by the new no fault process. We advise taking legal advice at an early stage, and we can then guide you through not just the new no fault divorce process, but the other important issues that also need to be dealt with. Hopefully the fact that there does not need to be any dispute about the ground for the divorce itself will mean that children and financial matters can be resolved more easily and by agreement.

If you would like advice on a family or marriage breakdown, contact our Family Department.