Divorce: no-fault divorce starts 6 April 2022
The decades of campaigning for a ‘no fault divorce’ position finally resulted in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill obtaining Royal Assent in June 2020.
The changes are the biggest shake-up of divorce laws for 50 years and it means that from 6 April 2022:
married and civil partnership couples can obtain a divorce without having to blame the other party
Decree Nisi is no more – the ‘Conditional Order’ is new
Decree Absolute is no more – the ‘Final Order’ is new
This is a welcomed, long overdue change in the law surrounding divorce petitions. The new law aims to reduce potential hostility between couples when separating by removing the need to apportion blame.
What will the new Divorce Law replace?
Until the new Divorce Act takes effect, under current divorce law, married couples looking to divorce would prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This was evidenced through one of the following facts being proven:
Desertion by one party;
Two years separation with the consent of the spouse; or
Five years separation without consent.
In the cases of civil partnerships, the facts are the same, excluding adultery.
These facts mean that one party made an application against the other for a divorce to take place and it could not be through mutual agreement.
The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act – 6 April 2022
The new system aims to update the divorce process into the 21st century, with the aim of trying to avoid confrontation where possible and reducing its damaging effect on children, in particular. The Act will remove the need to ‘blame’ one spouse with the couple signing a sole or joint statement that the marriage has broken down and cannot be saved.
This statement will also stop one spouse contesting a divorce as a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage will be conclusive evidence for the court to make an order for divorce.
From April 2022, if a wife wants to divorce
her husband, she now can, even if he objects.
The wife does not need to apportion blame.
(Or husband, the wife)
From April 2022, if a civil partner claims
the marriage has irretrievably broken down,
the marriage can be dissolved, without
the consent or blame of the other person.
20 weeks cooling-off period - The new divorce process
The new minimum time period from submitting a statement will increase to 20 weeks from 6 weeks and 1 day. This allows both parties time to agree practical arrangements surrounding the separation. Once 20 weeks has taken place a conditional order is granted by the courts. A conditional order replaces the terminology Decree Nisi (confirmation you are entitled to divorce).
From the conditional order there is an additional 6-week period before a final order is granted, severing the marriage or civil partnership. This replaces on the old terminology of a Decree Absolute.
Will the new changes make divorcing easier?
A marriage breakdown is a highly emotive time in any couple’s life. Currently, couples had to prove one of the 5 grounds for divorce, which could result in parties playing the ‘blame game’ and increasing conflict before the divorce process had begun. This leads to excessive involvement from solicitors and inevitably higher expenses to be paid in the long run towards legal costs. In reality, the reasons set-out in any divorce petition rarely make a difference to any financial matters that need to be agreed.
By removing the need to blame one party, it is intended that the new Act will help increase the likelihood of resolving divorce matters outside of court, providing a more efficient and collaborative approach between couples and solicitors, with less confrontation.
Are you facing Divorce?
Lawson-West’s highly trained matrimonial solicitors and team is here to guide you through every step of the divorce process. Please contact us today for a confidential discussion on how we can assist going forward. Let us advise on your situation and help limit the stress and confrontation often associated with divorce proceedings. We’re here to help.
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