Divorce & Dissolution
Divorce is the process leading to the legal ending of your marriage. Dissolution is referred to in reference to ending a Civil Partnership.
The only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Divorce â€“ the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA)
This Act reforming divorce law came into force on 6th April 2022. This reform has been referred to as â€œno-faultâ€ divorce because the only ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably without the need to prove any supporting fact relating to adultery, behaviour or periods of separation. The applicantâ€™s statement to this effect will be accepted and the other party (respondent) will not be able to challenge this and will only be able to oppose the divorce on one or more of three technical bases:
ii) Validity of marriage
iii) Prior Dissolution of the marriage
This law applies to Civil Partnerships, both same sex and hetero-sexual couples, as well as married couples.
The language used changes to avoid latin tags so the person starting proceedings is the applicant and the proceedings are the application. We now have a conditional order and final order to replace Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute.
There is now a fixed timescale and the conditional order cannot be applied for until 20 weeks after filing the application and the final order six weeks after the conditional order so the absolute minimum timescale is six months and likely to be a little longer in practice. Whilst as practitioners we have to date suggested allowing six months for the divorce to conclude under the current law with good will and prompt return of forms it has been possible to conclude within that timescale but no longer.
The 20 week period is intended to â€œallow for a period of reflection and allow couples to resolve other issues such as child or financial arrangementsâ€. This does have echoes of the parliamentary debates of the 1960s when the last major overhaul of divorce law led to the current situation with the Divorce Reform Act 1969 and concern that divorce was being made too easy and also in part to the Family Law Act 1996 which introduced a provision that there had to be a referral to mediation and a period of reflection and consideration which, although enacted, was never brought into force and was quietly repealed in 2014.
The Ministry of Justice of Justice has released an Information Pack which is available from the Solicitors Family Law Association website, Resolution, here: https://resolution.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Information-Pack-Divorce-Dissolution-and-Separation-Act-2020.pdf
If you would like further information please call me. Please note that whilst it is now possible for a joint application to be made I will nly accept instructions from one party because the risk of conflict later over finance and/or children is too great and I would not then be able to act for either party.
Proceedings are started by filing with the Court a document now known as an Application which sets out various formal requirements on factual matters relating to the marriage itself, jurisdiction . Your original marriage certificate also has to be filed with Court although if this is not available a copy can easily be obtained from the local Registrar for about Â£12 if you were married in the UK. Matters can become a bit more complicated if you were married abroad particularly if you do not have the original certificate available.
It is expected ordeers for costs will be rarer and on a joint application the court will only collect the fee from one party.
Family Law in Cornwall will represent you fully during the proceedings and take you through each stage to the final order (previously Decree Absolute), preparing all forms for you. The procedure is largely administrative and there should be no need for you to attend Court unless the other party is challenging costs, if claimed.
We will do this work for a fixed fee of Â£420 for our costs (no VAT is payable) but you will have to pay for a copy marriage certificate if required and the Court fees in addition. These are currently:
Fee on Filing Petition Â£593 (from 30 September 2021)
The fees charged by the Court Service can change at short notice but were last increased on 30th September 2021. Even if you are not eligible for Legal Aid you may be entitled to a reduction or exemption but have to complete a detailed means form and produce supporting documentation. Click HERE for this - A lot of people find it easier just to pay because of all the documentation that has to be produced but it is worthwhile if you are in receipt of passported benefits - Income based JSA or ESA, or Universal Credit when the Court Service are able to check directly with Department for Work & Pensions.
Additional costs may be payable and become chargeable at the standard hourly rate if:
There are difficulties in obtaining marriage certificate or a translation is required.
The other party does not return the Acknowledgment of Service and personal service becomes necessary or the whereabouts of the other party are not known.
The proceedings become defended, that is, the other party files an Answer to the petition.
Representation at a Court hearing is needed.
We will tell you of this in advance. Please note the fixed fee relates only to the process of divorce leading to the legal ending of your marriage with the Final Order and not to any associated issues such as finance and children. The Court fee and a payment of account of costs will be required in advance but payment of the Â£420 can be made by instalments over the likely length of time it will take of 6 months.
If you are looking at different quotes online check to see how much you will be charged for these other aspects and bear in mind you can talk to us to deal with any questions. You are not left just to fill in forms online.