Revisiting the impact of no-fault divorce
Following my earlier article in August 2022, I thought it would be helpful to review the impact the introduction of no-fault divorce on 6 April 2022 has had in terms of the number of new divorce applications being made. This is because at the time the new law was introduced, and indeed for many years beforehand, there was a real concern that the introduction of no-fault divorce could lead to the sanctity of marriage being devalued and a sharp increase in the number of divorce applications being made.
It may well be too soon to evaluate the real impact the legislation will have in this respect, given the short time which has elapsed since its introduction.
There are of course those that will continue to believe that marriage has in some way been devalued by the mere fact that a couple can now divorce without having to cite reasons or blame for why the marriage has broken down. It is also possible that over time more people may get married (who previously would not have) because they may feel that if the marriage breaks down there is a more streamlined and straight forward process to divorce than there was previously.
The latest data from the Ministry of Justice shows that there was a total of 24,624 divorce applications made in England and Wales between April 2023 and July 2023. This represents a 30% reduction in comparison to the same period in 2022. This reduction in some ways was to be predicted given the sharp increase in the number of applications made in April 2022 following the roll out of the new legislation where in the same period (April 2022- June 2022) 33,234 applications were made.
Of the 2023 figure, there were 23,458 conditional orders granted (this is the first formal stage of divorce). This statistic is also worth mentioning because readers may recall that when the new law was introduced, a 20 week waiting period was also introduced, to give couples time to consider whether they want to proceed with the divorce and also give them an opportunity to consider issues pertaining to the family finances or arrangements for any children of the family. It is interesting to note that just over 95% of divorce applications proceeded to the first stage of divorce within this period, taking an average of 29 weeks from the date the divorce was applied for to the date that the first order of divorce was granted. This would suggest that very few applications dropped out of the divorce process during this period.
Whilst I believe many would agree that the divorce process itself is a much more streamlined process, with less room for acrimony, and that this has meant many more applicants will represent themselves in the divorce, it is important to note that there are very serious implications for both marriage and divorce. It therefore remains imperative that people take appropriate legal advice to ensure that all matters have been considered before they embark on the divorce process, including financial issues and arrangement for the care of any children.
I understand the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having and whilst it may seem like solicitors’ fees should be negated where possible, I would encourage those seeking a divorce to consider solicitors’ advice as an investment rather than a further expense. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that advice is taken so that you can make a fully informed decision in relation to these important legal matters before proceeding with a divorce
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Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.
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