The 6th of April marked the one year anniversary of the new No Fault divorce law. So, a year on, we are looking back at the changes, the timetables, and the general views of the law.
The biggest change is that you no longer have to justify your grounds for divorce. Under the old law, you had to explain why you wanted a divorce; this would be either adultery, unreasonable behaviour of the other party, separated more than 2 years (with consent) or 5 years (without consent), or desertion. This caused tension from the beginning as someone had to be blamed or be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, which was not always applicable.
Under the new law there is no need to blame anybody. In fact, you can do the application together as joint applicants rather than applicant and respondent. This allows couples to work together from the beginning of the process.
Divorce by Stages
The Divorce Petition, the Decree Nisi, and the Decree Absolute have now been re-named as Divorce Application, Conditional Order and Final Order. This was intended to de-mystify the process, but we still take our clients through the steps and explain each stage as we go, as it still can be quite complicated.
We are now fully online, and all applications go through the online portal. This has sped up the process from the old paper documents which could take weeks to get through the postal system and then must work their way around the divorce units. Now the application takes just under two weeks to be issued. You then must wait 20 weeks until the Conditional Order can be applied for, and then another 6 weeks for the Final Order to be applied for. However, now you can track the progress online, which saves being on hold to the divorce unit for over an hour.
One Lawyer or Two
One positive we have found is that joint applicants can instruct the same solicitor to carry out the divorce rather than each party having their own solicitor. This can save time and costs. However, when it comes to the finances, this can get messy or contentious, and another solicitor may have to be instructed if the parties cannot agree or if they have to let the courts decide.
We have seen some clients who feel they have been wronged, but we try to get our clients to not focus on the past, or events that have happened; we help them to focus on sorting out the main issues – ensuring children are being considered and that the finances are sorted so they can move on with their lives and have a fresh start.
If you would like to talk to one of our family solicitors to discuss a relationship breakdown, contact us for a free 30 minute chat.