Divorce laws in Wales and England have changed in recent times. If you are planning on getting a divorce or if you are already going through a divorce, seek advice from reputable online sites like Splitting Up that will give you the full picture on how the law now stands in relation to your own circumstances. To help prepare you for the process and to ensure you are making the best decisions, here are the key aspects of divorce law in Wales. 

When can I get a divorce in Wales?

According to the UK Gov website, you can get a divorce if you have been married for a year or longer. You are also entitled to seek a divorce if your marriage is recognised on a legal level in the UK and if your relationship is irreconcilable.  

What are the grounds for divorce in Wales?

As in England, the grounds for divorce changed in Wales when the no fault divorce laws came into force in April 2022. The old grounds used to be unreasonable behaviour, desertion, adultery and separation for either two years with consent, or five years without consent. The rules have now changed for marriages and civil partnerships with individuals no longer required to cite a reason for the divorce.

What do the no fault laws mean?

  • The blame game is no more

As couples no longer have to name the reason for their divorce, the element of blame is reduced from the process with no-fault divorces. To get a divorce, it’s permissible to simply state that the marriage has broken down, without having to cite one of the five previous grounds. 

  • Contesting a divorce is not an option

Another significant aspect of divorce law today is that it is no longer possible to contest a divorce. The exceptions are if either you or your spouse do not live in the UK or if you can prove that the marriage was invalid.

  • New time frames

The no-fault laws also bring into force a new timeframe of 26 weeks from when an application has been made until a Final Order. One of the objections to the new laws was that by removing blame, divorces could be made more readily and frequently. To address this, this 26-week period represents a period of reflection for couples to ensure they are making the right decision. 

  • Joint applications

Previously, it was not possible for couples to make a joint application for a divorce, however, since the new rules have come into effect this has changed. No longer does it need to be one person initiating a divorce, but applications can now be made either jointly or by one person.

  • New wording

While old laws used to refer to the person filing for a divorce as the ‘petitioner’, to reflect more contemporary language, they are now simply called ‘the applicant’. Also, ‘final order’ replaces the old term, ‘decree absolut’ and instead of ‘decree nisi’ the phrase, ‘conditional order’ is used.

What you should know about no fault divorces

Although no-fault divorces offer a potentially more amicable process, do not automatically include financial settlements or child care arrangements. This means that even though your divorce may be finalised, one party can be left open to the other making a financial claim against them in the future and arrangements for children may be left unresolved.  

Splitting financial assets

When it comes to dividing assets, the ‘matrimonial pot’ is split exactly as before the new laws came into use.  This means that all business interests, savings, investments and property acquired both during the marriage and often before a marriage, will be taken into account. Once an agreement has been reached, this will be written into a financial settlement. To become legally binding, a consent order must be made by the court.

Conclusion

The no-fault divorce laws in Wales have made way for a more collaborative approach on negotiating child care arrangements and agreeing on financial matters. However, to ensure you are making the right decisions and are aware of all the facts, it’s valuable to seek legal advice before you begin the divorce process.