How to have an amicable no-fault divorce in England & Wales
If you and your partner have decided to separate, working out how to go about this and where to start can often seem really daunting. There are also some common pitfalls to avoid which we have highlighted below if you want an amicable no-fault divorce.
*All references to divorce apply equally to dissolution
In England and Wales, as of the 6th of April 2022 , you can apply for a ‘ no-fault ’ divorce.
This means that you don’t need to blame each other in the legal process or have been separated for long periods of time before being able to submit your application for divorce.
It has removed the former ‘grounds for divorce’, meaning the only reason stated on the application is that your marriage has broken down ‘ irretrievably ’.
Tips for an amicable no-fault divorce
Tip one: Are you sure your relationship is over?
We often find that couples who are on the same page emotionally, are in a much better place to agree to their children and financial arrangements. The news ‘I want a divorce’ can be really overwhelming, especially if it feels as though it’s out of the blue. It can also be followed by all sorts of emotions like denial or resistance. This can be particularly difficult if you then need to make big decisions over your finances and/ or children's arrangements. You can read our tips on how to tell your partner you want a divorce here.
Importantly, understanding the difference between a rough patch and a complete relationship breakdown can be really crucial. If you’re not sure, there are lots of resources available, such as this blog 'Is it over; should I leave'?. If you rush your partner, this will likely slow things down and might not lead to an amicable outcome. We have more tips on keeping things amicable in the early days of the process which you can find here.
Tip two: Do you have a plan for your children?
If you’re sure your marriage is over and you have kids, you’ll need to decide where they will live and how often you will both see them. If you need help organising your children arrangements, amicable offer co-parenting coaching sessions and also has a co-parenting app to help you stay on top of these. You will also need to decide how and when you will tell them that you are getting a divorce. Parenting plans are a great way to document these arrangements or amicable has a Parenting Contract.
Tip three: Navigating the legal process
In a nutshell, the stages of the legal process of divorce;
- Submit the divorce application and wait for your ex to respond (for sole applications)
- The **mandatory*
- 20-week reflection period starts from the date the court issue your application
- Apply for the conditional order and wait for your ‘certificate of entitlement’ to confirm the date your conditional order will be pronounced
- Once your conditional order is pronounced you must wait a further 6 weeks before applying for your final order
- You can submit a consent order to make your financial arrangements legally binding (optional)
- Apply for the final order (after the six weeks have elapsed) and wait for your final order certificate confirming your divorce has been finalised.
Going straight to lawyers can be a common pitfall if you would like an amicable no-fault divorce. There are several options to explore and going straight to a lawyer can contribute to conflict and tension.
There are various stages to getting divorced in England and Wales; submitting the divorce application , applying for the conditional order and applying for the final order . You are not legally divorced until you have received your final order (previously known as the decree absolute).
Divorces take a minimum of six months to be completed due to the introduction of a 20-week mandatory reflection period that starts once your divorce application has been issued by the court. There is a second waiting period of six weeks, between the conditional and final order stages.
If you feel confident navigating the legal process yourself, you can submit your divorce application using the Government website. Alternatively, you can use a service such as amicable to help you do this. You will also need to decide whether you would like to submit a joint or sole application for divorce.
Tip four: Sorting out your finances
"Most people don’t know that even after your divorce is finalised you are still financially tied together unless there is a financial order in place ending future claims."
To make any financial arrangements legally binding , and to end the risk of future claims against you from your ex, you can apply for a financial order. If you agree to your financial arrangements, you can submit a draft consent order to be reviewed by a Judge. If you don’t agree, then a Judge can decide on any unresolved disputes for you, however, this is often a very protracted and expensive option.
A draft consent order can be submitted to the court once you have reached the middle stage of the divorce process (the conditional order/ formerly the decree nisi). You can apply for a financial order after your divorce has been finalised, however, it is usually recommended that you do this beforehand. You will need someone who understands the law to draft this for you. amicable offers a variety of services, including those that help you to agree on your financial and child arrangements. You can learn more about our consent order drafting service below.
Tip five: Ask for help if you're not sure
If you are not sure where to start with the process, there are lots of places you can go for help. amicable offer a free 15-minute consultation to help you to work out your options. We also have coaching sessions which are a great place to start for a more in-depth view of your personal situation, to put you in the best position to have an amicable no-fault divorce.