It is the opinion of countless family law legal professionals that the fault-based divorce law in England and Wales was out-of-date and no longer fit for purpose. Under the former law, the petitioning party was required to blame the other party for the divorce if they had not been parted for a period of two years. The move to no-fault divorce eliminates the need for blame.
Formerly, the most common fact relied upon for divorce was “unreasonable behaviour”, requiring the petitioning party to give instances of the other’s behaviour, which they considered to be unreasonable. Such allegations needed to reach a certain threshold to convince the court that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Consequently, the petitioning party often had to raise private and emotive issues with the Court.
Under the new process, parties will be able to make a joint application, meaning that from the very beginning, parties can work together where they have reached the conclusion that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, and take the emotion out of the situation.
As part of the change to the current law, a cooling off period is going to be introduced. This will be a period of 20 weeks between the divorce application and the conditional order. It is anticipated that this new cooling off period will permit parties enough time to determine the finances of their marriage properly. They will then be in a position to lodge a consent order detailing the financial agreement they have reached with the court, once the conditional order is made.
The reality is that reaching a fair financial agreement can take time, and this hiatus in the divorce process better reflects this, making sure that financial matters are not hurried for the reason that one party lacks the want or need to end the marriage quickly.
In the majority of cases, the objective for divorce has no bearing on financial matters. Therefore, any increased hostility between the parties caused by the reason for the divorce was an unwanted intermission to reaching a suitable financial resolution. Therefore, the new law is welcomed by legal professionals as it will enable them to act in the best interests of both parties and any children of the marriage.
We know that contemplating divorce or separation can be both distressing and unsettling; however, our highly skilled lawyers will be both sympathetic and open-minded and will work hard not only to appreciate your specific circumstances but to help you reach a decision that is right for you.
Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, changes to eligibility criteria for Legal Aid for family cases also called public funding were introduced from April 2013.
In Divorce cases, Legal Aid is now restricted to low-income families and those in receipt of welfare benefits.
This means that for many families, the cost of Divorce can take a significant toll on their income and financial assets, adding to the stress and worry of Divorce.
In cases where an individual is not eligible for public funding (Legal Aid), Duncan Lewis offers a fixed fee arrangement for Divorce and a separate fee arrangement for some related child care matters. Financial matters ancillary to Divorce would be dealt with (after an initial one-off fixed fee meeting), by way of our competitive hourly rates.
Duncan Lewis Divorce solicitors can advise on all Divorce and separation matters, including:
Duncan Lewis offers a fixed fee arrangement for all Divorce matters and also offers lawyers supported Family Mediation and Child Mediation services to resolve disputes in Divorce, which can bring about resolution without resorting to costly court hearings.
The family court always prefers couples to reach agreement between themselves if at all possible as it is considered in the best interests for any children of the marriage.
However, in Divorces where the parties cannot reach agreement over finances, property or child care, Duncan Lewis can offer Family Mediation as an alternative to costly court action.
Both parties can appoint their own Duncan Lewis Divorce lawyer to give independent legal advice at every stage of the mediation process and Duncan Lewis’ own Mediators include Resolution qualified Professional Practice Consultants.
In the event one party does not agree to Family Mediation, it may be necessary to take court action in a Divorce matter.
Duncan Lewis will advise clients of the associated fees if a Divorce hearing in the family court is necessary.
Duncan Lewis also has successful departments covering, property, immigration, child care, domestic violence and litigation with in-house legal experts on hand to advise on any aspect of a Divorce case.
Because Duncan Lewis believes that everyone should have access to affordable legal advice, an initial fixed fee client interview to assess a case involving Divorce and child care matters can be arranged. All further work (save for the preparation of the Divorce papers themselves) would be dealt with by way of competitive hourly rates.
Duncan Lewis always advises clients of any fees in advance and in the event that further work might be needed, clients will always be given advance notice of these charges and how they have been incurred occurred; for example, if it becomes necessary to apply for a court order in a child care matter or Family Mediation is necessary.
For expert legal advice on all divorce matters, call Duncan Lewis Divorce Solicitors on 033 3772 0409.