Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

No fault divorce – should we make a sole or joint application?

Since the introduction of the new divorce laws in April 2022, you are now able to make a joint application for divorce with your spouse.  The law has moved away from a fault based system, so the decision you will need to make is whether you want to apply for a divorce with your spouse, as a joint applicant, or whether you want to make a sole applicant.

A sole application is made by one spouse and involves them applying for a divorce on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This is typically done when one spouse wants to initiate the divorce without the other’s consent.

A joint application, on the other hand, is made by both spouses together. This is typically done when both spouses agree that the marriage has broken down and want to move forward with the divorce together.

In the first three months of the new scheme, 22% of divorces were from joint applicants, with 78% of applicants choosing to apply on a sole basis.

If you and your spouse are both fully committed to progress a divorce to its conclusion as swiftly as possible, a joint application is a positive step, which you take together, to signify that your marriage has come to an end.   There will need to be communication between you at the outset, to decide whether you will apply online or via the post.  At each milestone in the divorce process, the court will contact you separately and you will then take the next step in the divorce process.   The first step will be to wait for 20 weeks and then make the application for the conditional order. The second step will be the application for the final divorce order.

If you start a joint application and then your spouse does not want to take part in the next steps in the divorce, you can take these steps by yourself, and become a sole applicant part way through the proceedings.

Our recommendation is that you make sure you are involved in the divorce as a sole applicant or joint applicant. Why? As a respondent you do not have the right to apply for the conditional order yourself.  This means that if your spouse made a sole application but then after the 20 week wait they did not apply for the conditional order, you could find that you need to start at the beginning of the process again with your own divorce application.

Be involved as an applicant.  Whether you choose to apply on a sole basis or joint basis will depend on your spouse and your particular circumstances.

It is important to note that regardless of which option you choose, the divorce process can be complex and emotionally challenging. It is highly recommended that you seek professional legal advice and support to navigate the process and protect your rights and interests.

Additionally, it is important to consider the potential impact of the divorce on your mental health and well-being. The divorce process can be stressful and emotionally taxing, and it is essential to prioritise your mental health and seek support if needed.

It is also crucial to thoroughly assess and evaluate the potential financial and legal consequences of the divorce. This includes considering factors such as property and asset division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. It is recommended that you seek legal advice to help you understand your rights and obligations and to protect your interests during the divorce process.

a joint application for divorce
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