Clean break consent orders under the old and new no-fault divorce laws

Clean Break - Now or new no-fault divorce?

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Getting a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean a clean break – as you don’t automatically sever the financial ties of marriage. Spouses are in fact financially linked well into the future, unless further legal agreements are put in place. Future earnings, inheritances, and even lottery wins are all at risk for decades unless a legal agreement or clean break consent order is put in place as part of your divorce.

A consent order is a document that details the financial agreements reached between a separating couple. This could include selling the former family home or sharing a pension. At its most basic level, a clean break consent order severs any financial ties, protecting you both from future claims from the other.   

To be legally binding, a consent order must have been approved by the court. The new no-fault divorce laws mark a significant change in the time it takes to legally bind any financial agreement (including a clean break agreement), and this article will explore the pros and cons of waiting for the new no-fault divorce.

You can apply to the courts to approve a clean break consent order after the decree nisi has been granted. Once granted, the clean break order will come into force when the decree absolute has been issued.

To give you an example of timelines:

  1. Apply for divorce today
  2. Divorce petition sent to your spouse +2 weeks
  3. Spouse returns the acknowledgement of service +1 week
  4. Apply for Decree Nisi
  5. Decree Nisi granted +5 weeks
  6. Wait minimum +6 weeks
  7. Apply for the Decree Absolute
  8. Decree Absolute granted +48 hours

As you can see from this example, the clean break order can be signed and sent to the court on receipt of the decree nisi, which will take approximately two months. Once the clean break order has been signed and issued to the court, you have the confidence that your spouse can’t change their mind about the agreement. Most couples going through divorce seek this certainty very early on in proceedings, and for a good reason. Now let’s have a look at the new no-fault divorce timings.

Clean Break Consent Orders under the new No-fault Divorce  

Again under the new law, a consent order has to be approved by the court to be legally binding. The new law replaces the old Latin terminology with new phrases. Decree Nisi becomes known as the Conditional Order, and the decree absolute will be known as the final order. Now you can apply for a clean break consent order after the conditional order has been granted. Once granted, the clean break consent order will come into force when the final order has been issued.

Let’s go through the timelines:

  1. Apply for divorce (from the 6th April 2022)
  2. Divorce petition sent to your spouse +2 weeks
  3. Spouse returns the acknowledgement of service +2 weeks
  4. Wait minimum +20 weeks (reflection period)
  5. Apply for the conditional order
  6. Conditional Order granted +5 weeks
  7. Wait minimum +6 weeks
  8. Apply for the Final Order
  9. Final Order granted +48 hours

As you can see, this is a very different picture. Under current laws, you could submit your clean break order to the court for approval in two months, and now you will have to wait almost seven months under the no-fault divorce law. That is a long time to be uncertain about your financial future post-divorce.

Pros and Cons of divorcing before the new no fault divorce comes into place 6th April?

The new no-fault divorce process will take longer, and the forced reflection period means it will take much longer to make any consent order legally binding. For many separating couples, this won’t cause any problems. However, the delays could prove problematic for those who have more delicate relationships or couples who want to move on with their lives quickly.

If you both agree that you want to divorce quickly, without delays to your divorce or financial settlement, divorcing under the current laws will be quicker, but time is running out.

To get a clean break consent order in two to three months, you must start divorce proceedings before the 31st of March to use the current laws.

After the 31st March, you will have to wait until the 6th April and use the new law, which will take at least seven months to conclude.

As always if you have questions – about this article or divorce in general, get in touch or schedule a free consultation here.

If you want to get your divorce and finances resolved quickly, you need to act now. 

Find out if you are eligible for a fast three-month divorce

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