No Fault Divorce has become law on 6th April 2022

It’s never easy, coming to the realisation that your relationship has broken down. There are often arguments and recriminations, and you may both feel misunderstood and hurt.

The previous divorce process only added to the grief and hurt felt. This has been acknowledged and a new ‘no fault’ divorce has now become law on 6th April 2022.

Previously, when seeking to commence divorce proceedings, unless relying upon a prolonged period of separation there must have been an assignment of blame. You had to prove one of ‘five facts’ to establish irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – unreasonable behaviour, adultery, 2 years’ separation with consent, 5 years’ separation, or desertion.

These ‘facts’ rarely fitted into the actual reasons for the breakdown and left many couples feeling resentful. Unreasonable behaviour was often used, as it was often the only ‘fact’ which can be used to commence proceedings without having to wait. However, this means that the person applying for the divorce had to list, in detail, the unreasonable behaviour of their spouse, which understandably caused more upset.

What’s changing?

• It is no longer necessary to rely on one of the ‘five facts’ to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

• The possibility of contesting the divorce has been removed. This means a statement of irretrievable breakdown cannot be challenged or dismissed.

• There is now an option to make a joint application for divorce, should you wish to do so. This can take a lot of animosity out of the process.

• The language used in divorce proceedings is in plain English. Decree Nisi (confirmation that you are entitled to a divorce) will now be known as a Conditional Order and Decree Absolute will be known as the Final Order.

• The new time period from submitting a statement of irretrievable breakdown is now 20 weeks. This allows the parties time to agree practical points surrounding the separation, such as child arrangements and finances. Once 20 weeks has elapsed a Conditional Order (previously Decree Nisi) can be applied for.

• From the date of the Conditional Order there is an additional 6 week period before a Final Order can be applied for. This will then dissolve the marriage or civil partnership.

These changes should hopefully minimise feelings of hurt and upset as a result of the current “fact” based procedure and enable parties to address the relationship breakdown on an amicable basis.

If you’d like advice about separation, divorce or financial settlements, we are here to offer a listening ear. Please click here to get in touch with a member of our highly experienced, friendly Family Law team today so that you can begin to move forward and look to the future.

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