What Are The Grounds For Divorce?

What Are the Grounds For Divorce?

Grounds For Divorce

To apply for a divorce in England and Wales, one or both parties need to cite the irretrievable breakdown of their relationship.

No Fault Divorce

There is no longer the need to apportion blame when applying for a divorce after 6 April 2022, following the biggest change in divorce law in 50 years.

The Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Act 2020 was passed in June 2020 and came into force on 6 April 2022, drastically reforming the divorce process by removing the need to play the ‘blame game’.

The changes include:

  • Removing the need for blame
  • Removing the option to contest the divorce
  • Adding the option to apply jointly for a divorce
  • Introducing a minimum wait of 20 weeks between making the application and the conditional order of divorce
  • Simplifying the language – ‘decree nisi’ is now ‘conditional order’, ‘decree absolute’ is now ‘final order’, and ‘petitioner’ is now ‘applicant’

When you are faced with a family law problem a sensible place to start is an initial consultation which will help you to understand your position and to formulate a plan. Book a fixed fee 1 hour consultation for £150 (plus VAT).

How Did The No-Fault Divorce Change The Process?

Previously, the grounds for divorce depended on one party apportioning blame. One spouse had to accuse the other and establish a reason for the divorce – grounds included unreasonable behaviour, adultery and desertion. Without blaming the other party, separating couples faced two or five years of separation before a divorce could be granted.

This was the case even if the couple had mutually decided to divorce.

Why Were The Grounds For Divorce Abolished?

The no-fault divorce passed into law to reduce conflict and stress for separating couples. The new divorce process is designed to give couples more space to focus on the important matters like arrangements for children, finances post divorce and divsion of the family home post divorce, rather than blaming one another during the divorce process.

A spouse can apply individually, or a couple can apply jointly for divorce, by stating their marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably. As a result, there is no need for accusations or blame, and spouses can no longer be locked into an unhappy marriage because one party contests the divorce out of spite – this is especially important for victims of domestic abuse.

The no-fault divorce is part of the wider process to improve the family justice system.

What Are The Grounds For Civil Partnership Dissolution?

Couples in a marriage who want to separate need to apply for a divorce, and those in a civil partnership wishing to end their relationship must apply for a dissolution. The process for both is the same – you no longer need to give a reason to obtain a divorce or a dissolution.

How Long Does A Divorce Take?

It takes a minimum of six months for the divorce process to complete.

What Are The Timescales For Divorce?

Every divorce application is unique and the process depends on the individual circumstances.

However, as a guide, this how long you can expect the divorce process to take for joint and sole applications:

Step 1: The Divorce Application

Joint Applications

Your application is checked by the court and you are both sent a case number and acknowledgement receipt together with a copy of your application stamped by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

You then wait 20 weeks before applying for a conditional order of divorce.

Sole Applications

You are sent a case number and a copy of your application stamped by HMCTS. The court also sends your spouse your divorce application and an acknowledgement of service receipt.

Your spouse must respond to the court notification within 14 days to state if they agree with or dispute the divorce.

If your spouse does not respond, the court will advise you on what happens next.

If your spouse agrees, you can apply for a conditional order after 20 weeks of making the original application.

If your spouse disputes the divorce, they must complete a form to give their reasons. There has to be a legally valid reason to object, and not simply because they don’t want to divorce. You might have to discuss the details in court. If your spouse does not submit the answer form to court, you can continue with the divorce by applying for a conditional order after the 20 weeks minimum time requirement.

Step 2: Conditional Order Application

The court will review your application, which can take several weeks.

If the judge agrees, the court will send you and your spouse a certificate and tell you when you’ll be granted the conditional order.

You need to wait a minimum of 43 days (six weeks and one day) after being granted the conditional order before you can apply for the final order.

Step 3: Final Order Application

The court will check all the details and send you both copies of the final order of divorce.

Once you receive the final order, you are divorced.

Need Advice? It starts with a Fixed Fee Divorce Consultation

We start advice with a fixed fee 1 hour consultation for £150 (plus VAT). This time can be used to discuss any family law matter whether it be surrogacy or adoption, divorcechild arrangements, a financial settlement, cohabitee dispute or any other family related issue. During this initial consultation we will provide an overview of the relevant law and answer any questions that relate to your specific circumstances.

The fixed fee appointment is also a good opportunity to begin building a professional rapport with your lawyer. Family law matters are generally very personal and emotive and you need to know that your lawyer is someone who talks your language, someone who is on your side and is someone you can trust.

The consultation will be followed up with a detailed advice letter which will outline everything discussed during the call.

At Tyrer Roxburgh we have a team of family law solicitors who are on here to support you. We offer advice face to face at our offices at St Michael’s Terrace, London, N22 or, remote advice via telephone or video call. It doesn’t matter where you are located, we can help.

We pride ourselves on being friendly and approachable so if you need advice from one of our friendly solicitors, please do get in touch by calling 0208 889 3319 or via one of the options below.

The first introductory call is free and enables you to outline your circumstances and for us to explain how we can help. Our team are friendly and approachable and are always happy to answer your questions.

If you have a question about our services, please use our online form to send us an email.

If you need to speak with someone you will always receive a friendly welcome if you telephone between the hours of 9am-5pm but if we are closed, you can  request a callback. We will call you back as near to your requested time as possible.

Common Questions And Answers About Grounds For Divorce And The Divorce Process

Can One Party Dispute A Divorce?

No, one party can’t dispute a divorce except in very limited legal circumstances.

What Happens If Your Spouse Can’t Be Located?

With the no-fault divorce, if your spouse can’t be located you can ask the court to go ahead without a response from your partner to the court notification form.

Do You Need Legal Help to Get A Divorce?

Applying for a divorce is legally binding and the terms cannot be changed once they are agreed – which is why it’s recommended to seek legal advice from a divorce solicitor at the start of the process.

Every aspect of divorce must be considered and all paperwork completed accurately, having legal help to get a divorce ensures you fully understand the legal complexities of divorcing and find the best possible outcome for your future.

Is Obtaining The Divorce The Only Legal Consideration?

The divorce itself is only one element of the process, and professional legal advice might be needed for sorting assets, finance and child arrangements going forward.

The division of finances, property and assets during divorce must be formalised by a Consent Order to make it legally valid. If children are involved, arrangements will need to be made for their care for the future and then agreed to by the court.

What Is A Solicitor’s Role In The Divorce Process?

A large part of a divorce solicitor’s role is to try to negotiate a divorce financial settlement, to enable open and frank conversations between the separating couple and allow for terms to be agreed upon.

If a couple can’t reach an agreement and it looks like court intervention might be necessary, then the couple normally has to at least attempt mediation.

While some solicitors do offer this service, it’s not a legal service.

However, all solicitors will provide any ongoing support and guidance during the process, as well as help to prepare paperwork for court, and advise on financial matters including pensions and savings as well as advise on childcare issues and your entitlements.

Providing emotional support and legal advice throughout, you are far more likely to secure the divorce settlement that’s right for you with the help of a family law solicitor – and ensure that every aspect of the process is taken care of.

What Is Family Mediation?

Mediation is often recommended as the first step to agree a divorce settlement. This is because it can be more cost-effective as a solution than a solicitor negotiation option, and the separating couple have more control over the negotiations this way.

What Is A MIAM?

The first meeting of a family mediation session is often called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting – or MIAM.

A MIAM lasts about an hour and is designed to provide the separating couple with the opportunity to explain to the mediator about their situation. The mediator will state if the couple is suitable for ongoing mediation sessions, following this initial meeting.

The couple can then decide if they want to proceed or to find another way to resolve the issue.

The mediator will also refer the couple to other organisations for help with financial advice and information on coping strategies after the separation.

You can get a MIAM for free with Legal Aid, otherwise the cost varies but as a guide, costs approximately £120 per person.

Usually, to be able to take your case to court, you have to attend a MIAM before making an application. This is because court should always be the last resort.

Is A MIAM The Same As Mediation?

A MIAM is different to mediation and helps you to understand your options when it comes to resolving your issues.

What If Mediation Fails?

Mediation is not suitable for all divorcing couples and sometimes the only solution is court.

However, even if mediation fails or isn’t the right solution for your situation, once you’ve attended a MIAM your solicitor will be able to help you with court proceedings, should this be your chosen option.

Your solicitor can help you handle the court proceedings and represent you, preparing your case for presentation to the judge and can communicate with your spouse through their solicitor if needed.

Was Removing Grounds For Divorce The Right Decision?

Yes, the no-fault divorce represents a positive change to divorce law as it enables separating couples – whether they are spouses in a marriage or partners in a civil partnership – to apply for a divorce without blame.

The divorce process is clearer and uses more modern language to make it more accessible and straightforward. It is fairer to both parties now as a result of removing the need for accusations and the option to contest the divorce other than on specific legal grounds. There is also a minimum wait time of 20 weeks between making the application and the conditional order of divorce, providing time to reflect or reach a reconciliation as well as time to agree on the important matters for the future such as children, property and finances.

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