Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Column: No Fault Divorce

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SOLICITORS are braced for changes in the law as on April 6 new legislation will allow for no fault divorces; this shakes up an area of law that has not changed for almost 50 years.

Separating couples will no longer have to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage and the ‘blame game’ ends.

It is hoped the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act reduces the potential for conflict and now, put simply, if one party wants a divorce they are not forced to prove a grievance, or potentially have to stay married if the other party does not agree with their reasons for a divorce.

The new Act not only introduces ‘no fault divorce’ but also importantly removes the ability for a party to contest a divorce and should save couples considerable time, cost and stress.

Joint applications can be presented, where both parties agree the marriage has irretrievably broken down, providing a more amicable separation, which is especially important where children are a factor.The jargon surrounding divorce is also to be made easier to understand and timescales shortened, but still giving a period for reflection for both sides and a chance to look separately at child arrangements, maintenance, property and finances, and the division of any pension pots.

This involves a 20-week timescale between issue of the divorce application and the first stage – the conditional order (formerly Decree Nisi).

It is followed by a six-week timescale from conditional order to final order (formerly Decree Absolute), so there is a minimum time frame of six months.

Karen Kenyon, one of family team based in Saddleworth for Pearson, said: “This change is long overdue and I already have clients waiting for the legal changes and a more amicable way forward.

“The current law was outdated and has had a tendency to potentially increase animosity and acrimony in already difficult circumstances.

“It’s unfair that a couple is forced to stay together even if they have tried to make their marriage work.

“In line with the changes, at Pearson we have reduced our fixed fee divorce costs accordingly to reflect the new law.

“We would however urge couples to always consider financial orders as divorce only really legally ends a marriage, it does not resolve matrimonial finances and property.

“A good specialist family solicitor can make sure any financial settlement agreement reached is converted into a legally binding financial consent order.

“If this is not achieved I would worry that there is a real risk that one party will lose out and this is where our experts really do come into play.

“We quote separately on children and financial matters as this is dependent on individual circumstances and we are here to help and advise.”

• Contact Pearson on 0161 785 3500 or email family@pearsonlegal.co.uk

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