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Can I do a no-fault divorce myself online?

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Can I do a no-fault divorce myself online?

In this article, Family Solicitor Louisa Knight discusses DIY divorce and how it works under the new divorce law.

Louisa looks at whether a DIY divorce has become easier, discussing the pros and cons, and outlines the divorce process in full.

What is no-fault divorce and how does it work?

No-fault divorce is a divorce which doesn’t require either party involved to blame the other for the breakdown of the relationship.

This differs from the previous ‘fault-based’ divorce.

No-fault divorce came into force on 6th April 2022.

Find out exactly how no-fault divorce works here.

Can I do a no-fault divorce myself?

In short, yes. Under the new law, you will still be able to do a divorce yourself online through the gov.uk website.

Due to the introduction of no-fault divorce and change in divorce law, we expect more and more couples to look at DIY/online divorces going forward.

However, do it yourself divorce does have its drawbacks and won’t be suitable in all circumstances. Later in this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of DIY no-fault divorce.

Is a no-fault divorce easier to do myself?

The introduction of no-fault divorce will likely make DIY divorce a lot easier as there’s less ‘barrier for entry’.

 No-fault divorce, unlike fault-based divorce, doesn’t require:

  • Either party to blame the other for the relationship breakdown.
  • A period of separation before the divorce application.
  • Either party’s consent.

It also can’t be contested and can be applied for jointly.

Essentially, there’s no eligibility criteria other than the fact that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

For this reason, there will be a lot less for the divorce applicant(s) to do - making DIY divorce much easier than it’s ever been before.

What are the pros and cons of DIY no-fault divorce?

Below I’ve listed some of the key pros and cons of DIY no-fault divorce.

The advantages of DIY no-fault divorce

  • It’s cheaper – the only fee involved will be the court fee
    • DIY divorce is therefore more accessible to a wider range of people, rather than a divorce through a solicitor
  • The new law should make a DIY divorce easier than ever before

The disadvantages of DIY no fault-divorce

  • Financial and child arrangements aren’t settled in a DIY divorce, but are when you go through a solicitor
    • Attaining a financial order and/or a child arrangements order will have to be done separately and may cause the process to take longer
  • It requires more effort, time and input from you - a solicitor wouldn’t be there to handle everything for you
  • If issues/arguments arise between you and your partner, dispute resolution will be more difficult without a solicitor
  • You won’t have a solicitor there to answer questions and advise you throughout

What does a financial order do?

When couples part, there are two separate elements that need to be taken care of. The legal element (divorce) and the financial element. A financial order sets out the financial agreement been parties on their divorce.

It is a legally binding document setting out the terms of the financial agreement once it is approved and sealed by the Court.

Why are financial orders important?

I wrote in detail about financial orders and their importance in another article that you can read here. To summarise their importance:

  • Without a financial order in place, the financial matters between a couple are left open
  • Obtaining your Final Order does not automatically resolve the financial matters between you
  • Until there is a sealed Financial Consent Order in place, either party could potentially make a financial claim against the other, even if the Final Order was obtained several years ago

What is the divorce process? – How to DIY divorce

The divorce process changed on 6th April 2022.

Here’s what it now looks like:

  1. Apply for divorce (either online, or through a solicitor)
  2. The divorce process begins
  3. A 20-week reflection period starts, for the couple to decide if they want to go ahead
  4. Application is made for the conditional order after that initial 20 week period
  5. Conditional Order is reviewed by court
  6. Conditional Order is granted
  7. 6 weeks must lapse between the granting of the Conditional Order and the application for the Final Order
  8. Application is made for the Final Order
  9. The Final Order is granted

This whole process should take roughly 6-8 months.

This process does differ slightly for joint applications. Learn more here.

Unfamiliar with the terminology used in the process? Want to learn more about the timings involved? You can here.

DIY no-fault divorce: Our advice

Louisa Knight, specialist solicitor in our Family Team, says: “The introduction of no-fault divorce made obtaining a divorce a lot more accessible to people.

Especially as parties can now make a joint application or where previously they would have had to wait for the 2 years separation with consent period.

Whilst it has become more readily available, it is still going to be a fairly lengthy process, roughly 6-8 months, with some elements now differing to the previous law.

DIY divorce has been available since the Government launched the portal scheme allowing people to instigate the proceeding themselves, however whilst the gov.uk website provides guidance, there is no-one there to answer any queries that you may have and the Court cannot provide you with specific legal advice on your divorce.”

No-fault divorce & financial order solicitors

If, after reading this article, you need to chat to a solicitor; feel free to get in touch with our bright Family Team.

We can assist you in your divorce, financial order or child arrangements order.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients with one of our specialist no-fault divorce solicitors.

Call us on 01202 499255 or fill out the form at the top of this page.

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