How to apply for a no fault divorce


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No fault divorced were introduced in England and Wales in April 2022. This introduction marks a significant shift towards a more amicable resolution of marriage dissolution. This progressive step removes the necessity for couples to assign blame for the breakdown of their marriage, allowing for a less contentious legal process. Understanding how to apply for a no fault divorce is the first step towards ending your marriage.

If you require any assistance with the no fault divorce process, ARC Costs can put you in touch with a solicitor within our network.

What is a no fault divorce?

No-fault divorce fundamentally changes how couples can legally end their marriage. Under this new system, individuals can apply for a divorce without the need to prove fault, such as adultery, desertion, or unreasonable behaviour, by either party.

This method acknowledges that sometimes, relationships simply break down irretrievably without specific blame. The primary requirement is a declaration that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, which both parties can make jointly or individually.

This approach aims to minimise conflict and emotional distress during the legal process, making it a more respectful and dignified route to separation.

How to apply for a no fault divorce

parties can apply for a no fault divorce using a sole application or a joint application. the general process for obtaining a no fault divorce is outlined below:

Eligibility check:

Before applying, ensure you meet the criteria. You need to have been married for at least a year. Your relationship should be permanently broken down, and your marriage must be legally recognised in the UK.

Application preparation:

Gather necessary documents, including a certified copy of your marriage certificate and any relevant financial information. If you’re applying jointly, communicate with your spouse to coordinate the application.

Filing the application:

You can apply online or by post. The online application is more straightforward and can be found on the UK government’s website. If applying jointly, one partner can start the application, but both must complete their sections.

Paying the Fee:

There is a Court fee of £593 fee for divorce applications. Fee exemptions or reductions may apply based on financial circumstances.

Service and Response:

When the application has been issued, send a copy of the divorce application to your spouse. They must respond within 14 days, acknowledging receipt and indicating whether they agree to the divorce.

Conditional Order:

After your spouse’s acknowledgment, and after 20 weeks, you can apply for a conditional order (Decree Nisi). This legal document states the court sees no reason why you can’t divorce.

Final Order:

After a waiting period, typically six weeks and one day after the conditional order, you can apply for a final order (Decree Absolute), which officially ends your marriage.

Things to consider when applying for divorce

  • Financial Settlements and Child Arrangements: While the no-fault divorce simplifies the dissolution process, issues like financial settlements and child custody arrangements must still be resolved. It is always advisable to reach an agreement on these matters before applying for the final order.
  • Legal Advice: Consulting a solicitor can provide clarity and ensure your rights and interests are protected, particularly regarding financial entitlements and arrangements for any children involved.
  • Emotional Support: Divorce, even when mutual and without fault, can be emotionally challenging. Seek support from counselling services or support groups to navigate this period.


How to apply for a no fault divorce: FAQs

Can I apply for a no-fault divorce if my spouse disagrees?

Yes, you can apply for a no-fault divorce even if your spouse disagrees. The process allows for individual applications where one party can apply without the consent of the other. However, the process involves notifying the other party and giving them the opportunity to respond, which might affect how smoothly the process goes.

How long does a no-fault divorce take?

The duration of a no-fault divorce can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of your case, how quickly you and your spouse can agree on financial and child arrangements, and the court’s current caseload. Typically, the process can take anywhere from six months to a year from application to the final order.

What happens if my spouse does not respond to the divorce application?

If your spouse does not respond to the divorce application, you may still proceed with the divorce. However, you may need to take additional steps to prove that your spouse received the application and to allow the court to move forward with your case without their response.

Are there any alternatives to court for resolving financial and child custody issues?

Yes, there are several alternatives to going to court for resolving financial and child custody issues, including mediation, collaborative law, and arbitration. These methods can be less adversarial and more cost-effective, helping both parties reach an agreement out of court.

How does the no-fault divorce impact financial settlements?

The no-fault divorce process itself does not directly impact the outcome of financial settlements. However, reaching a financial settlement is an important part of the divorce process. It’s advisable to agree on financial matters before applying for the final order. The court can make orders regarding the division of assets, maintenance, and pensions as part of the divorce proceedings if necessary.

How can ARC Cost assist?

If you would like to find out more on how to apply for a no fault divorce, get in touch today. Although we cannot provide legal advice in divorce cases, we can introduce you to the divorce solicitors on our panel.

Our team of highly skilled Law Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers can also assist legal representatives in recovering their legal aid fees, or in securing inter-partes costs after any such order has been made. Our team regularly assists in all types of costs claims, including divorce legal costs disputes. Our client base ranging from law firms to Litigants in Person, both privately funded and funded by the Legal Aid Agency. In inter-partes disputes, we can assist both paying parties and receiving parties.

If a divorce Costs Order had been made in your favour, we can assist you in recovering the costs owed to you. Equally, if a Costs Order has been made against you, we can assist in disputing legal costs and minimising your costs liability.

To find out more about how we can provide you with assistance, please contact us at 01204 397302 or email our team of experts at Alternatively, please use our free chat facility to speak to an expert directly.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


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