“No fault” divorce to become law on 6 April

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 “No Fault Divorce” was passed in June 2020.  It is going to become law on 6 April 2022.

As things stand, the current law only allows parties to divorce if they prove to the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and they have to show that they have proved one of the five facts attributable to the marriage breakdown.

To enable the parties to divorce in a reasonable timethis has meant one party blaming the other for the marriage breakdown, citing particulars of unreasonable behaviour or adultery. Placing blame often causes unnecessary stress and conflict in what is already an extremely difficult and stressful time. We often find ourselves agreeing particulars between the parties that the other party will find palatable.  This is because unreasonable behaviour petitions have in some cases simply become a “means to an end”.  The new law removes the need to place blame or create an artificial situation and simplifies the process.

Below is a short summary of the main changes:

1   No need to place blame

2   The application cannot be contested (unless the marriage wasn’t valid in the first place)

3   The process has been simplified – there will be a simple online process and whilst many will still require the assistance of a solicitor to guide them through this, it will be more user-friendly, and the terminology  simplified.

4   Both parties can apply with a joint application.

5   The minimum time period for submitting an application will increase to 20 weeks and one day. This will enable the parties’ time to agree practical arrangements surrounding the separation.  Once the 20 weeks have taken place, a Conditional Order is granted by the Court.  With the Conditional Order there is an additional six week period before a Final Order is granted, ending the marriage or civil partnership.

The changes will also enable couples to focus on the important issues such as child arrangements and financial settlements.

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