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Clean break consent orders under the no-fault divorce law

Getting a no-fault 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). This article will explain the changes and the timelines.

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 is known as the final order.

You can apply for your clean break consent order to be made legally binding once the court grants your conditional order. Once approved, the clean break consent order will come into force when your 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. 20 week reflection period begins
  4. Spouse returns the acknowledgement of service +2 weeks
  5. Apply for the conditional order when the reflection period ends
  6. Conditional Order granted +5 weeks
  7. Wait minimum +6 weeks
  8. Apply for the Final Order
  9. Final Order granted +48 hours

You will need to wait around six months from starting your divorce before submitting your clean break order to the court for approval under the no fault divorce law. Once the clean break order has been issued to the court, your spouse can’t change their mind about the agreement. Now let’s have a look at the old divorce timings.

The old divorce law was quicker because it did not have the forced reflection period. This also meant that there is a shorter waiting time to apply to the courts to approve a clean break consent order after the decree nisi has been granted.

If you are still divorcing under the old law here are the 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.

How do I know if I’m divorcing under the no-fault or old law?

If you started your divorce application after the 6th April 2022 you are divorcing under the new no-fault divorce law. If you started your divorce before this date you are divorcing under the old faster law.

Key Takeaways

The new no-fault divorce process takes longer, and the forced reflection period means it will take longer to make any consent order legally binding. For most separating couples, this won’t cause any problems. However, for some, the longer time period could prove problematic for those who have more delicate relationships or couples who want to move on with their lives quickly. Our recommendation in this case is to start the clean break order process so that we can get all of the necessary documentation prepared. Then once you have your conditional order from your divorce we will reissue the documents for you both to sign before submitting to the court for approval.

A clean break consent order costs £299 and you can find out more and order the service here.

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

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