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No-Fault Divorce and its impact on financial proceedings

News28th June 2022

In our last blog post No-Fault Divorce: everything you need to know, we outlined the changes made to the divorce process in England & Wales through the introduction of the no-fault divorce. The new divorce system, introduced on 6th April 2022, removed the need to apportion blame to either party. The hope is to facilitate a smoother and more harmonious separation process. However, this process is not the only thing divorcing couples need to consider. In most cases, where there are assets to be divided, divorcing parties should evaluate their financial arrangements and seek advice on any resulting financial settlement. Understandably, the question we now hear from many of our clients is this: has the no-fault divorce brought about any changes to the financial proceedings that sit alongside divorce proceedings? The short answer is: no.

Equal division of marital assets remains the same

In terms of the letter of the law, the new no-fault divorce legislation has little or no bearing on any corresponding financial proceedings. The courts will continue to maintain a starting point of providing equal division of any marital assets, where possible. As this was the court’s position under the old blame-based system, it perhaps makes sense that this remains the starting point after removing the need for blame. From this position, the court will continue to assess compelling reasons presented by either party to depart from it. The needs of both parties will then be reviewed and met accordingly.

Poor behaviour may still impact financial proceedings

Evidence of poor behaviour can, in some cases, be presented in order to influence the outcome of financial proceedings. However, the success of this argument is rare, and any such behaviour must be deemed significantly serious or exceptional by the judge. This remains the position of the courts, even after the removal of blame-based elements under the new no-fault divorce process, meaning that significantly serious misconduct from one or both of the parties may still play a part in financial proceedings.

Lack of blame may lead to easier financial negotiations

However, for most divorcing couples, the no-fault divorce signals an end to the previously required blame game, meaning that both parties are hopefully able to start negotiations over financial settlements on a more harmonious footing.

At Blackfords LLP, our private family law team has a wealth of experience in financial proceedings, whether you are seeking assistance with an agreed Financial Consent Order, or representation and advice through financial proceedings, whether voluntary through solicitors, in mediation, or in the court process. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 03330 150150 or by email at familyteam@blackfords.com today to arrange your appointment to discuss any family matter enquiry with a member of our well-qualified team.

Nicola Chamberlain is Head of our Family Team. Emma Smart is a Paralegal in our Family Team.