Relationship breakdown – new ‘no fault divorce’ rules
It is always difficult when a relationship breaks down, particularly where children are involved. There are three separate aspects to consider – the divorce itself, the financial settlement and the arrangements for children.
If you think it is possible the relationship can be salvaged, you might like to consider relationship counselling.
Mediation is a way of sorting any differences between you and your ex-partner, with the help of a third person who won’t take sides. The third person is called a mediator. They can help you reach an agreement about issues with money, property or children.
It’s better to try and reach an agreement through mediation if you can. You could save money in legal fees and it can be easier to solve any differences. Mediation isn’t free, but it’s quicker and cheaper than going to court. If the differences between you and your ex-partner are about a child, you might be able to get a free voucher worth up to £500 for mediation. If you’re on a low income you might also be able to get legal aid to pay for all or part of the costs of mediation.
New ‘no fault divorce’ introduced by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into effect on 6 April 2022. It will take a minimum of 26 weeks to get a divorce under the new system. Under the new rules it will no longer be necessary to show fault, or a period of prior separation to get divorced. It will also be possible to make a joint application which was not possible previously. The rule changes will also apply to ending a Civil Partnership.
Separating from a partner can have a big impact on your finances, especially if you relied on their income during your relationship.
When you separate, you’ll need to think about how to divide your money and belongings. Two of the biggest decisions you’re likely to make are what to do with your home and how to divide up any pensions – if you have them.
You don’t have to go to court to arrange financial support and a fair division of assets. If possible, it’s cheaper and easier to come to an agreement between yourselves – this is known as a ‘voluntary arrangement’. Mediation can help you to reach an agreement. But, if you can afford it, it’s normally a good idea to talk to a solicitor once you’ve decided what you want to do.
If you have children, you’ll need to agree where they will live. You’ll also need to decide how much time they spend with each of you. When you’re agreeing where your children will stay, you should also work out how you’ll keep in touch with them when they’re staying with your ex-partner.
Child arrangements are usually an informal agreement – but it can help to write them down – this is called making a parenting plan.
Sorting out how to pay for your children is also part of making child arrangements.
There is a lot more detailed information on all aspects of relationship breakdown on the Citizens Advice website:
If you need advice you can contact Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham via:
• FREE Adviceline telephone: 0808 278 7962
• Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk