Legal Update: End of the Blame Game – No Fault Divorce to Come into Effect 6th April 2022

No fault divorce to come into effect on 6 April 2022

Last year we wrote an article “Turning Point in Divorce – The end of the blame game” confirming that a new bill had received Royal Assent so that in future separating couples will no longer need to apportion blame for the breakdown of marriage.

Originally it was envisaged that by Autumn 2021 the new law will come into effect, however it has now been confirmed that it will come into effect in April 2022 to allow time for IT changes to the HMCTS online systems. In this article we examine the changes that are going to come into force with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

The Current Grounds for Divorce and What Will Change

The current sole ground for obtaining a divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and this will remain however, there will no longer be any requirement to establish one of the 5 facts. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2-year separation (with the respondent’s consent), desertion or 5 years separation (without the respondent’s consent). Instead, either or both parties to a marriage may apply to the Court for an Order (which will be a “Divorce Order”) which dissolves the marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The application will need to be accompanied by a statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

The Court dealing with the application must take the statement to be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and make a Divorce Order.

The current terminology will also be updated. “Decree Nisi” will be “Conditional Order”; “Decree Absolute” will be a “Final Order”; “Petitioner” will be referred to as “Applicant” and a “Divorce Order” can be a Conditional or a Final Order.

The current law allows the Respondent to defend the Petition and ask the Court not to dissolve the marriage. This process is costly, lengthy and can be stressful for the Petitioner. However, the new law will remove the ability of the other spouse to contest a divorce, dissolution or separation if the application is made by one party only.

A further change will introduce a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of the proceedings to when the “Conditional Order” (Previously Decree Nisi) can be made. This gives the parties time to reflect and consider whether they wish to proceed to the Final Divorce Order. However, the 6-week period between the Conditional Order and when the Final Divorce Order can be made will remain as it is now.

This new law is such a turning point for divorce and has been the subject of lengthy campaigns by Resolution. Finally, this new law will bring a much-needed change for those wishing to formally end their marriage without having to blame one party thereby hopefully reducing any animosity between the parties.

How We Can Help

If you would like to discuss any family law issues and require legal assistance, we offer complimentary, initial consultations with a member of our team. This no-obligations consultation gives you the opportunity to speak with a legal expert about your matter and gain a better understanding of what your options are. To arrange your free consultation call 0800 999 4437 or email today and use reference code: WFam080620

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