The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 brought an end to “fault based” divorce on April 6th.
Meaning that a divorce can be achieved with no blame being assigned to either party – hence the name ‘no-fault divorce’.
As part of the new law, joint applications for divorce have been introduced. In this article, Andy Stynes discusses the benefits of joint applications and outlines the process involved in applying.
Can both parties file for divorce?
Yes – under the Divorce Dissolution and Seperation Act 2020, both partners can apply for a divorce together.
This is known as a joint application.
(Single applications by one party are still be available).
What are the benefits of joint divorce applications?
Below we’ve listed some of the key benefits to joint divorce applications
There’s no ‘shock factor’
Both parties are well aware of the divorce from the outset.
Neither party will feel betrayed or taken by surprise, which can be the case in some sole applications.
Both spouses will be fully involved
Neither party will feel left out, taking joint responsibility.
The spouses can proceed when they both feel ready – allowing time for them both to emotionally prepare.
Once emotionally ready, the couple can move on to dealing with the specific factors involved such as children and finances in a much smoother fashion.
Emotions will therefore be less present and the divorce proceedings will likely be less traumatic.
How to get a divorce with a joint application
Below we’ve outlined the step-by-step process involved in a jointly applied for divorce:
1. Apply for divorce
‘Applicant 1’ applies for the divorce, ‘Applicant 2’ submits their necessary information to court, then ‘Applicant 1’ does the same.
The application can be done yourselves online, or through a solicitor.
Do I need a solicitor for a joint application for divorce?
We recommend you use a solicitor to assist you in your application, as:
- A solicitor can provide advice, answer questions and resolve issues for you
- A DIY/online application will not resolve financial matters and does not allow you to get a financial order. A solicitor allows you to do this.
2. The divorce officially begins
After application, it will take 2 weeks before the divorce officially begins. Once the court starts the divorce process, there will be a 20 week reflection period.
This period of reflection is in place for the couple to:
- Turn back if they wish to do so, or
- Make arrangements for the future for the benefit of their children if any and for financial issues (when divorce is inevitable)
3. Application is made for the conditional order
After this 20 week period of reflection is up, you can jointly apply for a conditional order to be made.
A conditional order, previously known as Decree Nisi, officially confirms that you are entitled to divorce.
Learn more about the new no-fault divorce terminology here.
4. The conditional order is reviewed by the court
At this stage, the court will review the conditional order.
If approved, a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ will be issued to you which confirms that you are entitled to a divorce.
Step 4 should take roughly one to two weeks.
5. The conditional order is granted
At this stage, a second period of 6 weeks begins which allows you to submit a consent order to court to:
- Make any financial agreements legally binding
- Make a ‘clean break’ legally binding
6. Application is made for the final order
After the six-week period mentioned above, the couple can then jointly apply for the final order and finish up the divorce.
This was previously known as the ‘Decree Absolute’.
7. The final order is granted
After the application is made, the court will grant the final order – finalising the divorce.
Both parties will receive a copy of the order at this point, as proof of divorce.
Read about the timings involved in a no-fault divorce here.
Our advice on joint divorce applications
However, jointly applying for divorce is somewhat complicated. I would always recommend you instruct a solicitor to guide you through the process for this reason, especially if you require a financial order or a child arrangements order.”
Specialist no-fault divorce solicitors
At Frettens, our team of bright and approachable family solicitors specialise in offering pragmatic legal advice in plain English.
We can assist you in your divorce, financial order or child arrangements order.