No fault divorce was introduced in England in April 2022, which now makes it much easier for couples to divorce, and importantly removes the ‘blame game’ and unnecessary finger-pointing and acrimony at a time when emotions are already running high.
However, not everyone realises that applying for the divorce is just one part of the divorce process and that a final order (previously known as a decree absolute) legally ends your marriage, but does not sever the financial ties between you and your ex.
For you to divorce and move on with your separate lives, you need to do more than just complete a form online, you must agree issues relating to your divorce such as child, property and financial arrangements.
Below we look at the importance of starting the process of trying to sort your financial, property & child arrangements during the compulsory 20-week minimum period after you have filed for divorce, to ensure you can move on with your lives faster.
No-Fault Divorce Timing
There is a compulsory 20 week wait between when you file for divorce and when you will be granted a conditional divorce (which confirms the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce or end your civil partnership). During this period, it is advised to start trying to reach agreement on any financial, property or child arrangements with your ex.
20 weeks after filing for divorce you will be granted a conditional divorce order, the court will then consider any financial, or child agreements that you have already discussed, so it is important that you start to try to reach agreement on these during this time period in order to move to the next stage quickly.
Once the financial agreements (and child agreements if you need to agree these) are agreed by the court you can then apply for your final divorce order, however, there does need to be a 6-week minimum period between the conditional order and the final divorce order.
Below is an example timeline for a no-faut divorce* :
1st January : File for divorce (either single or joint application). This is when you should start thinking about financial and parenting arrangements.
20th May : Conditional divorce order granted. (Both parties must have confirmed they still wish to go ahead within this period)
21st May : Financial Consent Order submitted to court
2nd July : Apply for Final Order – if Financial Constent Order is agreed by court
*This timeline is based on a best-case scenario and everything running smoothly and parties agreeing financial & parenting arrangements during the 20-week compulsory waiting period, ensuring that your finances and divorce conclude in the same timeframe.
What Is A Financial Order?
A Financial Order is a document which sets out the financial agreements you and your ex have agreed to and needs to be approved by the court to be made legally binding. Even if you are not married or are in a civil partnership then it is still advisable to make a separation agreement.
There are many financial issues you will may need to agree on how to separate such as :
Is A Financial Order Necessary?
If you have come to an agreement on how your finances will be split it is important to get this agreement put in writing and approved by court, as without this then your ex may seek a different agreement further down the line.
Even if you feel you don’t have any real assets currently, if you were to come into a large sum of money in the future, then there would be nothing stopping your ex-partner from making a claim for a share of this without a clean break offer. Therefore, it is vital that you apply for a financial order as soon as possible.
How Do I Obtain A Financial Order?
To get a Financial Order you must agree with your ex on your financial arrangements. This is not always easy to do when tensions may be running high. You can apply to court, and they will decide how to split your finances, however this can leave everyone stressed, hurt and poorer and family mediation could be a faster, cheaper and less stressful alternative.
Family Mediators are trained to help you put your feeling asides and focus on the issues that need to be sorted out. Mediator’s do not take sides; they are there to help your discussions and help you to reach agreements that work for you both. You can find read more about how family mediation works here.
Once you have agreed your financial arrangements either yourselves, or through family mediation, you can then apply to court for the Financial Order to be approved.
Whilst No-Fault divorce has brought significant changes to the divorce process to make it easier for couples to part ways amicably, to truly move on with your lives, sorting out financial, property, and child arrangements is crucial. The compulsory 20-week minimum period between filing for divorce and receiving a conditional divorce order presents an opportunity to negotiate and agree on these matters. By proactively reaching financial agreements during this time, you can expedite the divorce process and ensure a smoother transition into the next phase of your life.
Whether you choose to reach agreement through court or opt for family mediation, the key is to put emotions aside and focus on finding mutually beneficial solutions. Family mediators can play a pivotal role in facilitating constructive discussions to help you reach agreements that work for both parties.