How solicitors add value in the ‘no-fault’ divorce era

The introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce was heralded as a long-overdue piece of legislation to replace the previous requirement of proving a spouse was at fault for the breakdown of a marriage.

Family law specialist and partner at Lodders, Vivienne Middleton.

It is intended as a ‘streamlined’ divorce procedure, outside of the court area, which allows separating couples to do so amicably.

Whilst no-fault divorce has brought positive changes to the divorce process, the need to seek expert legal guidance, support, and advice from solicitors remains. Family law specialist and partner at Lodders, Vivienne Middleton, explains.

What is no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce refers to the online divorce procedure that allows couples to end their marriage without having to establish fault or wrongdoing by either party. Unlike fault-based divorces, which required proving adultery, desertion, or unreasonable behaviour, no-fault divorce aims to promote amicable separations, eliminate the risk of defended divorce litigation, and protect the emotional wellbeing of all involved, especially children.

When completed, the no-fault divorce procedure will change the parties’ status from being married to being divorced. This procedure, even when completed, will not assist individuals in resolving any issues in relation to finances or children.

The importance of solicitors

No-fault divorce may simplify the legal procedure, but it is still essential to consult a solicitor. Some key reasons for this are outlined below.

Fair financial settlements

The online divorce procedure succeeds in changing a party’s marital status to divorced but does not address the distribution of financial assets and spousal maintenance, or any issues concerning the children’s arrangements. The advice of a solicitor cannot be overstated in ensuring entitlements are understood and a fair settlement is achieved. For example, despite pension-sharing legislation being in place for over 20 years, some individuals are still unaware that they may be entitled to claim a share of their former spouse’s pension, to ensure their income needs are met during retirement.

Future financial certainty

A final order (formerly known as the Decree Absolute) will dissolve the marriage, but it is not sufficient without a financial remedy order to achieve financial certainty. A financial remedy order cannot be obtained via the online divorce process and should not be entered into without first seeking advice from a solicitor. It is very important to secure a ‘clean break’ financial settlement, i.e., one that will prevent both parties from making financial claims during their respective lifetimes and beyond death. Financial claims arising from divorce are not time limited and can be made several years after the marriage was dissolved.

Specialist expertise

Solicitors are experienced professionals with in-depth knowledge of family law. We can guide you through complex legal procedures, ensuring your rights and interests are protected. We have connections with other professionals such as actuaries, chartered surveyors, forensic accountants, financial advisers, and barristers, to ensure the financial disclosure process is comprehensive and to help you make informed decisions. There is only one opportunity to achieve a fair financial settlement during divorce. The advice and expertise a family law solicitor brings are essential to each unique set of family circumstances.

Procedural compliance

Divorce procedures involve various legal steps, deadlines, and documents. Solicitors ensure all legal requirements are met promptly, to prevent potential delays and complications. We also help you navigate the complexities of litigation to ensure advice and representation is provided, paperwork is completed, and clients are supported, to achieve a fair outcome.

Lodders is a premier law firm in Stratford upon Avon, Cheltenham Henley in Arden, and Birmingham. Founded 235 years ago, the firm offers expert legal advice across a range of legal services including private client, commercial law, real estate and family law.

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