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Will no-fault divorce affect my financial settlement?

View profile for Shelley Cumbers
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Will no-fault divorce affect my financial settlement?

From 6th April 2022, it will be possible to obtain a no fault divorce, marking one of the most significant changes in divorce law this country has seen in the last 50 years. The change in the law has been long-awaited and will end the blame game for divorcing couples.


What is No Fault Divorce and how does it work?


Under the new no fault law, it will be possible to get a divorce without the need to prove that someone is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage, whether by reason of their behaviour or adultery, or to show that you have been separated for a period of time before making the divorce application. 


Instead, the new no fault divorce law will allow an application to be made for a divorce with a simple statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  It will not be necessary to set out evidence of that breakdown and the court will not be required to inquire whether the statement of irretrievable breakdown is correct.   


Can we jointly apply for a divorce?


Under the new law, couples will be allowed, for the first time, to apply jointly for a divorce or they can apply in the sole name of one party, and it will no longer be possible to defend the decision to divorce.


Is there a time frame for a no fault divorce?


The no fault divorce law, will introduce a new minimum overall time frame of 6 months (26 weeks) to obtain a divorce, comprising a 3-stage process of 

  • applying for the divorce
  • obtaining a conditional order
  • obtaining a final order. 


Until the final order is made, the couple will remain married and the time frame allows a period of reflection and an opportunity to resolve the practical arrangements for the future, including the financial and children matters.


Will no-fault divorce law affect my financial settlement?


Although the new divorce law will allow couples to obtain a divorce without blame, the final divorce order will only have the effect of dissolving the parties’ marriage. 


This means that whilst the divorce will end the marriage, it will not resolve the financial claims that divorcing couples have against each other. For those couples with a lot of family wealth tied up in properties, investments, pensions and business assets, the importance of resolving the financial issues will be keenly felt as they may wish to protect their financial assets or have a lot to lose as a result of divorce.


What if you have financial claims against one another?


Upon divorce, couples have financial claims against one another for capital provision, spousal maintenance and pension sharing. They can seek lump sum payments and for properties to be sold, transferred or for the ownership shares to be adjusted. Couples can seek ongoing financial provision to meet their needs and they can seek a share of business and pension assets.


Whilst it is open to divorcing couples to agree how their assets and income will be shared on divorce, their financial claims will remain open until a financial order is obtained alongside their divorce. 


What happens if we do not get a financial order?


Without a financial order, the claims are simply left open-ended which creates a high level of uncertainty and risk which most couples will wish to avoid, especially if they do not want their ex-spouse to make a claim against them in years to come.


There will be inheritance issues to address on divorce, including the preparation of a new will. There may also be tax consequences upon which couples should obtain professional advice from an accountant or tax expert before the divorce is concluded and before any final decisions are reached on how to deal with the money and property issues. 


Birkett Long has a large team of specialist family lawyers who have the knowledge and expertise to conduct no fault divorce and ensure any financial matters are resolved.  


We offer a free of charge 15 minute call to discuss matrimonial and separation matters, so if you’re looking for advice, please contact Shelley Cumbers on 01206 217378 or shelley.cumbers@birkettlong.co.uk to see how we can help.

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