Explanation of New No-Fault Divorce Rules

Explanation of New No-Fault Divorce Rules

Explanation of New No-Fault Divorce Rules

On 25 June 2020, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal assent and became an Act of Parliament. The new Law will come into effect on 6 April 2022 and promotes no-fault divorce by removing the requirement to assign blame in divorce applications or waiting for years before making an application for divorce.  The aim of the changes is to reduce the impact of unnecessary conflict on couples and children during a divorce. The divorce process will also now be entirely online.

Under a no-fault divorce, a couple can file for divorce once they have been married for at least 12 months.

    • There is no longer a need to establish one of the previous five facts required for divorce. The new requirement is only for a statement to be made that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
    • It will no longer be possible for one party to contest the divorce, although there will still be some grounds that will allow an application to be challenged. The Court must accept the statement and make a divorce order.
    • Couples will be able to make a joint application for divorce.
    • A Decree Nisi will now be called a Conditional Order and a Decree Absolute will be called a Final Order.
    • A new minimum time period of 20 weeks from the date of the application to the date of the Conditional Order will be introduced.
    • A further 6 weeks will then have to pass before individuals can apply for a Final Order. This change allows time for agreement to be found in respect of arrangements for children and finances. If you do not apply for a Final Order within 12 months of getting the Conditional Order, you will have to explain the delay to the court.
    • It will be necessary to have a Conditional Order for divorce before the Court can make an order finalising financial arrangements. This applies whether the terms are agreed between the parties or the Court imposes a financial order. There are significant implications of the Final Order, and it is best to finalise any financial settlements before applying for a Final Order.

As with any divorce, it is almost impossible to estimate a total cost because each case is different. However, with the no-fault divorce, it is hoped that more amicable and constructive discussions will lead to better and less expensive outcomes. As ever though, this will come down to the personalities of the couple involved and the individual circumstances of their case.

Elaine Parkes Solicitors have family law solicitors in offices across the East Sussex and Kent including Brighton, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells and are available now to discuss this significant legal development in UK divorce law.

Contact us now to arrange an appointment to discuss how Elaine Parkes Solicitors can help you.

The Impact of Coronavirus on the UK Family Courts

The Impact of Coronavirus on the UK Family Courts

The Impact of Coronavirus on the UK Family Courts

The family court systems, like so many things, have been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. From travel bans to lockdowns, social distancing requirements to legislation reform, the family court experience following this year may look very different.

Some cases have switched to remote hearings. Some have been postponed, and many Elaine Parkes Solicitors clients have contacted us with concerns about how the crisis will impact their legal proceedings.

Alongside this disruption, and pressure on an already stretched court system, there have been substantial increases in the number of domestic abuse situations.

According to the Family Court Statistics, these cases rose by 24% in the quarter to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Here we’ll recap how the virus has impacted the family courts, and what new measures might affect the format and timing of new cases – and what options are available to you, if you are keen to move forward.

Remote Family Court Hearings

One of the positive developments is that the family courts have progressed in their capacity to facilitate remote hearings. In simpler cases, and where the participants have the requisite technology, a video conferencing solution enables a judge to hear a case outside of the courtroom.

This option is usually faster, and more comfortable for participants who can attend from their home, or their solicitors’ offices, without the formality of a court hearing.

Where there are limited hearing spaces available, priority is given to those more serious cases where a swift judgement is crucial.

Due to the speed offered by a remote hearing, divorce cases in early 2020 were resolved faster, with 54% of hearings held via video call – compared to just 28% in the year before.

The average time taken for Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute hearings has both reduced.

However, all other types of family hearings have taken longer to resolve, with increasing demand and reduced court availability leading to many cases considered non-urgent being delayed or postponed.

Cases around care orders and child supervision continue to take longer. The average time for such a case to reach the first disposal is up by seven weeks from 2019, at 40 weeks during the quarter July to September 2020.

In response, new venues have been created, called the Nightingale Courts. There remains a significant backlog, which does mean that new cases will potentially take longer to be heard for at least the next few months.

Where circumstances are considered urgent, there are emergency hearings available – do get in touch if you have a family matter that requires expedited legal support.

What Can I Do if a Family Court Case Has Been Put on Hold?

The courts are one of many ways to resolve a family matter. Our teams deal with every aspect of family law, from separations to custody agreements and cohabitation to transferring ownership of assets.

While it may be necessary to wait for a court date, several other options could potentially help you reach a resolution faster.

Please note that most private proceedings are not eligible for Legal Aid – but if you’re interested in learning more, do get in touch, and we can advise around anticipated costs and timescales.

Alternatives to court hearings include:

  • Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Collaborative Law

A Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR) is often preferable where a case involving financial matters has been delayed indefinitely in the court system.

An FDR is a private hearing and can be a way for the parties involved to reach an agreement, with a Judge’s indication about what outcome they would consider fair.

Deciding to opt for a private FDR can be relatively expensive. Still, where divorce proceedings have been postponed for a substantial period, and where the parties involved are keen to move forward with a solution, it may be viable.

You can also hold a private FDR at a location of your choosing, opt for a video conference where an in-person hearing is not possible, to ensure proceedings can go ahead around pandemic movement and social distancing restrictions.

Can I Opt for Arbitration or Mediation to Resolve a Divorce Case?

Another option is to consider mediation or arbitration – both of which are private proceedings carried on outside of the court system, and available at your convenience.

There is also an option called collaborative law. This means you and your ex-partner meeting with your respective solicitors, who must be trained in collaborative law, and trying to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.

A collaborative law process included a legally binding consent order, where you agree on how you will share your finances. You can then move ahead with a divorce petition, without any contention about what will happen to your jointly owned assets.

Family arbitration is another potential solution, whereby you appoint a Family Arbitrator who will make a decision. The benefit is that you can choose your Arbitrator and decide when and where the hearing takes place.

As with a decision passed down by a judge, the Arbitrators’ decision is final and legally binding, and although it can be less costly than a court hearing, you do need to budget for the arbitration fees involved.

Mediation can also be quicker than waiting for a rescheduled court date – although you and your partner will need to be prepared to discuss your situation, and try to reach an amicable resolution.

A Mediator cannot make a decision for you but will help you negotiate and reach a conclusion.

In any of these alternative scenarios, you will need to disclose information such as:

  • Your finances, assets and debts.
  • Bank and savings accounts.
  • Outgoings and living expenses.
  • How much you earn.

If you are considering your options, and would like to conclude a matter of family law without waiting for a court date to be scheduled, or rescheduled, give the Elaine Parkes team a call. We will help you decide on the most appropriate option.

A lot depends on what issues require a resolution and the circumstances. Still, if you are struggling with court delays and the impact on your family, there may be a suitable solution available.

Top 6 Things to Consider When Writing a Will

Top 6 Things to Consider When Writing a Will


Preparing to write your will can take a considerable amount of time and planning. You’ll need to think long term and carefully consider all aspects of your life. Elaine Parkes wants to help you ensure that your will is an accurate reflection of how to deal with your most treasured assets and record your requests.

We’ve created a guide of our top 6 important things to think about when preparing your will.

  1. Guardianship of children – If you have children under 16

Some people often write their will after the birth of their first child. When writing your will, you can nominate another person to care for your child until they are adults if anything happens to you and your partner.

It’s important to consider a range of points when choosing your guardian such as:

  • Similarities in lifestyle, values and religion
  • Who does your child have a strong bond with
  • Location of where the potential guardian lives- will it be suitable
  • Who will be able to take on the role physically, financially and emotionally

2.  Assets 

When making a will, it’s important that you make a list of your assets and their values. Once you have compiled your list of assets you’ll be able to identify who you want to give what to.

It’s essential that you note whether the assets you own are owned independently or with someone else for example, a spouse. A jointly owned property will automatically go to the surviving owner.

Cherished items are often overlooked as assets, although they don’t have a high monetary value they do have emotional/personal value. Think about your cherished items as you can pass them along to children or grandchildren as a family heirloom.

3.  Appointing an executor

The executor of the will are the people responsible to carry out your final wishes as you outline in your will. Being an executor can be a complicated task, so when choosing your executor make sure you consider someone who has the time and will be the ablest to accomplish the task.

4.  Naming beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the persons who will benefit from your will. The most common beneficiaries are usually your spouse, children, extended family and possibly favourite charities. If you’re leaving an estate to more than one beneficiary, make sure you explain how it’s to be shared in order to avoid complication i.e. – include sums or percentages.

5. Complex circumstances

There can be many complex circumstances that you need to consider when writing your will and you should take note of them. Some circumstances that you may want to consider are:

  • Excluding someone who would normally expect to benefit from your will
  • Previous marriage/divorce or other family complexities
  • Providing for a beneficiary with special needs
  • Being a company director

Make sure you explain any specific circumstances to your will writer for example, why you want to exclude someone or why you have left someone less than they may expect. This can be kept on file and can be used should anyone claim against your estate.

6.  Getting expert advice

As you can see writing a will isn’t straightforward so it’s best to get advice from solicitors. Ideally, it’s best to speak to solicitors who specialise in wills and probate as they can write the document and ensure that everything is in order for you.


Do you need help or advice when it comes to will writing?

If you have any questions about preparing for your will appointment or writing your will, we’re here to help. Contact Elaine Parkes Solicitors on 01424 883183