Whether or not you have decided to end your marriage or partnership, seeking advice can help clarify what to do. Most divorces proceed undefended and can be dealt with in a straightforward manner. We can advise you on what facts can be used to obtain a divorce and the procedure involved.
The changes to the Law
• The Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into effect on 6th April 2022, and now allows for married couples in England and Wales to divorce without assigning blame. This new law also applies to civil partnership dissolution.
• Like in the old law however, they must have been married for at least one year before applying for the divorce.
• Under the old law, a couple had to prove the breakdown of their marriage through e.g. adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or lived separately for 2 years or more. If they did not reach an agreement to divorce, they had no choice but to wait until they had been living separately for 5 years before they could make the application.
The new Law
Divorce is now completely digital. Under the new law, there is only one ground for divorce, and that is the irrevocable breakdown of marriage. The changes mean that instead of needing to prove the other party is at fault, there is now no requirement to assign fault when filing for divorce. This also means that you cannot contest the divorce unless you are contesting it on the grounds of validity of the marriage. The new process will allow parties to either make a sole or a joint application (saving on costs!), unlike in the past where only one party could make the divorce application.
There is also a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the beginning of proceedings to the point of the ‘Conditional Order’. This means that 20 weeks must elapse from when the application is filed with the Court before the parties can apply for the Conditional Order. The main purpose for this window is to allow couples a period of ‘meaningful reflection’. If, after that period, the couple still wish to divorce, they must confirm this to the court when they apply for the Final Order, thus making it a minimum of 26 weeks between the initial application and the final order. The new law has made language to be in plain English, for example, changing ‘decree nisi’ to Conditional Order and ‘decree absolute’ to Final Order. The process of filing for the divorce itself is now called Divorce Application as opposed to ‘petition’ which was used in the past. No-fault divorce should reduce conflict, allowing couples to focus on important issues like their children, property and finances.
THINGS TO DO AFTER A DIVORCE
The marriage is over, and the decree absolute/final order has been granted by the court. The below should now be considered:
1. Change your name
If you took your husband’s name upon marriage, and no longer wish to keep it upon divorce, you may want to change it back to your maiden name.
It is sometimes possible to revert to your former name, simply by providing a copy of the decree absolute/final order/deed poll to the relevant record holder (eg a bank).
2. Speak with a financial advisor
Arrange to see a financial advisor to make your settlement work for you if any, and Plan for your retirement as early as possible.
3. Ensure your Financial Order (FO) is put into legal effect
A FO is used to provide legal standing to financial settlements upon divorce and must have been approved by the court.
Once the FO has been issued, it will then be necessary to ensure that the instructions of the divorce settlement are carried out.
4. Close joint bank accounts
The financial settlement will generally dictate how any money in shared bank accounts is to be divided between the two divorcing parties. Ensure the joint accounts are closed after.
5. Make a Will
Divorce does not revoke a Will that has been made during the marriage, but the former spouse of the testator will be treated as if they have died for purposes of the Will.
This means that, if the former spouse is the sole beneficiary in the Will, the testator will be considered intestate in the event of their death and their estate will be dealt with according to the Rules of Intestacy. To avoid this, it is advisable to draft a new Will upon divorce.
Our Family Team:
- Trainee Solicitor
Amersham telephone: 01494 729024
Aylesbury telephone: 01296 596969
Prestwood telephone: 01494 862226
Wendover telephone: 01296 620443
To arrange an appointment to discuss with our specialist lawyers please contact the Family Department using any of the details above.