Many people assume that an online divorce service will be quicker, easier and less costly than instructing a lawyer. However, online services are usually for uncontested straight forward divorces and whether you choose an online service or a solicitor, the Court fee is additional. (Currently, the court fee is £593.00).
As of 6 April 2022, the No Fault Divorce has come into effect.
A No Fault Divorce allows couples to leave their marriage without having to use one of the five facts to prove your marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’, you can simply make a declaration together saying that it has.
Can a couple jointly apply for a no fault divorce?
Yes. A couple can apply for a no fault divorce singly or jointly. Previously one spouse had to issue divorce proceedings against the other.
The new law doesn’t change that a solicitor can only act for one of you in any child or financial arrangements.
There might be the need to consider what would happen if one of you changes your mind due to a breakdown during discussions on child or financial arrangements.
How long does a no fault divorce take?
If everything therefore runs smoothly and there are no other issues, the minimum length of time to get a divorce now will be six months.
No Fault Divorce process.
- A couple apply for a divorce individually or together. This means they can choose to make a statement together explaining their marriage has irretrievably broken down. They don't need to explain why.
- A period of 20 weeks will apply as a ‘cooling off period’
- After 20 weeks and the couple are still looking to proceed, a Conditional Order is granted by the court. At this point you can now file a financial consent order with the court following the Condition Order being granted and (if you are having one) the financial order sealed (agreed) you can apply for your final divorce order
- A 6-week period
- After the 6 weeks is over a Final Order is made by the court.
- The minimum length of time to get a No Fault Divorce will be 6 months.
Can you contest a no fault divorce?
No, you cannot contest a no fault divorce. The reason for contesting a divorce is the mistaken belief that admitting fault will affect access to children and the fair division of financial assets.
Although a no fault divorce cannot be contested, the terms of the divorce can. For example, financial arrangements and arrangements for children. In this case terms may be agreed through mediation or, failing that, through the court.
What happens about the parenting arrangements and finances?
You will need to reach an agreement on how the arrangements for parenting and how the assets and finances are agreed whilst living separately, as these are separate parts of your divorce and are not covered under the no fault divorce law.
If you are having difficulty on coming to an agreement between yourselves, mediation is the next reasonable step as it is a pre-requisite for going to court for a decision in most cases.
A no fault divorce may be less costly than the current divorce process because it is less contentious. It is hoped that more amicable agreements can be reached more quickly so outcomes are less expensive.
Arrangements for children and matters relating to property and finances will still need to be agreed. The associated costs here will be the same as any type of divorce.
Choosing the Best Representation
If you decide to instruct a divorce solicitor, the next step is which one to choose? An initial consultation should enable you to feel confident that the lawyer has the knowledge, experience and personality to understand and suit your needs.
The approach that the solicitor has to the proceedings should be considered and having an aggressive approach can result in greater costs being incurred and whilst that may be the approach that you seek at the beginning of the process, it may be something that you do not wish and regret at the end, particularly if there are children to be considered. Courts prefer a conciliatory approach (or non-confrontational approach) but this does not mean that you shouldn’t use a solicitor who will fight your corner.
Understandably, for people going through the divorce process, costs are an issue. Most firms provide details of their hourly rate with guidance as to the likely overall cost. If court proceedings are involved there are many factors to be taken into consideration which may affect the final cost. Be wary of firms offering a lower rate as they may not include any additional costs.
You may wonder whether the size of the firm makes any difference. It tends to make no difference in cost but in larger firms, the majority of solicitors specialise in a particular area of family law and are able to support one another. Smaller firms may not be able to offer a range of services or have the experience. If it is one solicitor within the firm undertaking family work, the question you should ask is what happens if they are not available, for example being on holiday.
The correct choice of a solicitor or lawyer can make all the difference in how you approach, deal and cope with this stressful time.
At QualitySolicitors Parkison Wright we are able to offer a wealth of experience, not only in family law but specifically in handling divorce and adopt a sensitive and proactive approach in doing so. Call us today on 01905 401 893 for an initial assesment so that you know what to expect in terms of cost and time before choosing one of our specialist divorce solicitors to represent you.