For the first time, couples can make a joint divorce application once the new no-fault divorce begins on the 6th April. Both parties will apply for their divorce or dissolution together and be equally responsible for the application. Here we walk you through the process as a couple (joint divorce application) filing for divorce.
Divorcing couples will be known as Applicant 1 and Applicant 2, (rather than Applicant and Respondent as in sole/individual divorce applications. Joint applicants have the possibility to switch to an individual application if the relationship deteriorates or where one party is not taking the necessary action to progress the application.
Can we have a No-Fault Divorce?
You can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:
- you’ve been married for more than a year
- your relationship has permanently broken down
- your marriage recognised legally in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
- the UK is the permanent home of at least one of you
What grounds do we use for a No-Fault Divorce?
Under the current divorce law, you must support a divorce application by one of five facts – adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation, and five years’ separation. The new no-fault divorce removes the need to provide evidence of conduct or separation and replaces it with a simple requirement to give a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.
How long will a No-Fault Divorce take?
The new no-fault divorce will take a minimum of six months compared to the current process that can be as quick as three months. The longer time frame is due to a new mandatory 20 week ‘reflection period’ between the start of proceedings (when the court issues the application) and when the applicants can apply for a conditional order.
In addition, there is another six-week window between the court granting the conditional order and when the order can be made final. We’ve put the complete process and timescales in the infographic below.
The more extended divorce period means that court approval of any financial agreement will take longer too. If you both agree to a quick divorce, you might want to take advantage of the current laws. You can read about the pros and cons of divorcing under the existing laws here. Hurry though; you only have until 4 pm on the 31st March to apply.
Can we still get help with Court Fees if we filed jointly?
Yes and No. Joint applicants can apply for help with fees if both applicants have little or no savings and either get certain benefits or have a low income. If this is the case for only one applicant, help with fees will not be available. If one of you is on a low income, you may want to file an individual application to claim help with fees.
No-Fault Divorce – Guide to a Joint Divorce Application
Step 1. Joint divorce application begins
You can either do this yourselves through Gov.UK or by using a reputable online divorce service or solicitor. It is important to note that an online divorce provider can work with both of you on your joint application. However, if you decide to use the same solicitor, you will have to use the slower paper process.
Applicant 1 starts the divorce application, and then Applicant 2 fills in their information. Finally, Applicant 1 submits the application to the court.
Step 2. Court begins the joint divorce application process
It takes the court two weeks to officially start your divorce, triggering the 20 week reflection period.
Step 3. Joint divorce application for the Conditional Order
After the 20-week cooling off period, you then make the application for the Conditional Order (formerly called the Decree Nisi).
Step 4. Court review of Conditional Order application
Once received, a legal advisor from the court reviews your joint divorce application. If they approve the divorce, they will issue you with a Certificate of Entitlement to confirm the date of your conditional order. This step takes one to two weeks.
Step 5. The court grants the Conditional Order
The date of the conditional order will be 4/5 weeks from the Certificate of Entitlement. Once it’s granted the second mandatory waiting period of six weeks begins. This is a very important stage because you can now submit a consent order to the court to make any financial agreements you have made together legally binding.
Read this if you’re not sure if you need a consent order Do You Really Need A Consent Order When You Divorce?
Step 6. Joint divorce application for the Final Order
After a minimum of six weeks have passed, you can jointly apply for the Final Order (formerly the Decree Absolute) to finalise your divorce.
Step 7. The court grants the Final Order
The court will issue the final order 24-48 hours after your application. You are now officially divorced, and you will both receive a copy of the final order. Keep this document safe, as you may need it in the future as proof of your divorce.
If you have any questions about a joint application for a no-fault divorce (or divorce in general), drop an email, phone 0204 530 8101 or take a free consultation with one of our friendly experts who will be happy to help.