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New Divorce Law: No-Fault Divorce in England and Wales

March 15, 2022

 

A change is fast approaching in terms of applying for divorce. This change will arrive on 6th April 2022 and the changes will mean:

  • Married couples can obtain a divorce without having to blame the other party
  • No option to contest or defend the divorce unless it relates to jurisdiction issues
  • There will be the choice for one party to initiate the process as a sole applicant or for a joint application to be made
  • Minimum timeframe of 26 weeks from the initial divorce application. This will allow couples to have a period of reflection to resolve other issues, such as financial arrangements and child arrangements whilst the divorce is progressing
  • Change of the legal jargon used to make it more accessible and easier to understand. A ‘Decree Nisi’ will now become a ‘Conditional Order’ and a ‘Decree Absolute’ will be a ‘Final Order’, confirming the divorce has been finalised

This is the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years. The change comes under The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. 

 

The new process will completely remove the current requirement to provide evidence which supports the only ground for divorce, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by way of using adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation with or without consent.  The need to attribute blame in any format is removed and fault-based divorces will become a thing of the past. The Applicant (or Applicants for a joint application) provide a “Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown” which is effectively undefendable. The only objection to the proceedings can be that relating to jurisdiction i.e. whether the court in England and Wales has the authority to dissolve the marriage, given the location of the parties or whether the marriage itself is valid.

The process will consist of two stages. The court imposes a 20-week period from the commencement of the divorce application to the date of Conditional Order. The intention behind this is to ensure that both parties have an opportunity to consider whether the decision to seek a divorce is correct and probably to use that time to look at how financial matters should be dealt with. From the Conditional Order, there is an additional six-week period before the Final Order is granted.

 

When to apply?

Applications under the new law will not be accepted until 6th April 2022. However, applications via the current law must be sent to the court no later than 31st March 2022. This is to allow for the relevant systems to be updated in readiness for the change. Any application made on 31st March or before, will continue to proceed under the current law.

If the court fee stays the same, the minimum cost of getting a no-fault divorce will be £593. However, not everyone can do their own divorce or even want to do their own divorce and therefore, instructing a solicitor to carry this out will involve further legal costs in addition to the court fee.

In the interim period, do you issue now or wait for the new procedure?

This very much depends on your circumstances. If a divorce is agreed between the spouses and there is no issue over other parties allowing the divorce to proceed and will provide consent/admission where required, then proceed under the current law. The only cases where it may be worth waiting for a no-fault divorce to come into effect might be if there are any concerns about other parties opposing the divorce/not providing the admission or consent where required.

The divorce itself merely brings the marriage to an end and does no more than that.  Additional matters such as resolution of financial matters (even if there is nothing to sort out) should not be forgotten. The most crucial part of separation/divorce is to resolve issues regarding children and finances. In fact, a Financial Order is a far more important document to have than a Final Order in the divorce proceedings as the Financial Order will set out how financial matters are to be dealt with, and whether or not there is a clean break between the parties.

If you are considering divorce, seek legal advice sooner rather than later so that your circumstances can be discussed. Thomson & Bancks is here to help you through this process and guide you in the most appropriate way to suit your needs. Contact us today to arrange an appointment with our Family Law Specialist.

 

 

Chrys Wall

Chrys is an experienced Solicitor, specialising in Family Law; relationship breakdowns, divorces, financial matters, Children and cases involving domestic violence. She is accredited by the organisation “Resolution”, certified to assist in Financial Provision and Children Law work. Details of the organisation Resolution can be found here.

Click here to learn more about Chrys L Wall

 

Catch up with Chrys L Wall’s previous blog posts

New Divorce Laws come into effect April 2022
Spikes in relationship breakups and divorce by Chrys Wall
Helping local Gloucestershire Care Homes
Concerns about domestic violence during the current Coronavirus lockdown? by Chrys Wall
Covid-19 Can children move between households during the COVID-19 crisis?
Celebrating 30 years of loyal service
No-Fault Divorce: What you need to know about the proposed changes by Chrys Wall
Top Tips for Separating Parents, a short film by Resolution
Getting your divorce online? by Chrys Wall
Chrys takes on the 60-mile Thames Path Challenge
Resolution Cohabitation Awareness Week
Chrys’s Home 2 Home Walk for Charity for the Cedar Trust

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