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Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 to Come into Effect from April 2022

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After decades of campaigning for a ‘no fault divorce’, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill finally gained Royal Assent in June 2020. The changes are the biggest shake-up of divorce laws for 50 years, and it means from 6 April 2022, married and civil partnership couples can obtain a divorce without having to blame the other party. 

This is a welcomed, long overdue change in the law and aims to reduce hostility between couples when separating, avoid confrontation and reduce the impact upon the children of the marriage by removing the need to apportion blame.  

Here, we will provide indispensable information concerning no fault divorce, including what the current divorce law is, how no fault divorce differentiates and if you require a solicitor’s support for no fault divorce. 

Are you looking for advice and assistance regarding no fault divorce? Call us on 01476 404 104 or click the make an enquiry contact form at the top of the page. 

What is the current divorce law?

The current divorce law states that there is one sole ground for divorce, this being the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This can only be proved by relying on one or more ‘facts’. There are five facts: 

  • Adultery – this is only valid where you applied for divorce within six months of being aware of the adultery taking place. It cannot be used in civil partnership dissolution. 
  • Unreasonable behaviour – where the petitioner (person applying for divorce) cannot be reasonably expected to live with their spouse due to their behaviour. There is not a defined list, but some of the common reasons include excessive/lack of sexual relations, domestic abuse, relationship with another person, alcohol or drug abuse and more.
  • Desertion for at least 2 years – where the intent was to end the relationship and for no good reason.
  • Separation for at least 2 years with consent – for this fact to be used, the respondent (the person responding to the divorce) must agree to the divorce request.
  • Separation for at least 5 years – this fact can be used without the respondent’s agreement to the divorce. 

The current divorce law does not allow for joint divorces, even where the parties want to divorce together for whatever reason, such as drifting apart. Instead, the current legislation forces the petitioner to file a divorce petition that places blame or fault on the respondent (unless you have separated for at least 2 years). 

In addition, the current divorce law permits the respondent to contest a divorce, meaning the petitioner may not be allowed to divorce from their spouse.

How does no fault divorce differentiate from the current divorce law?

No fault divorce is set to overhaul and completely revolutionise from the current divorce law, allowing divorcing couples to divorce without being required to place blame or fault on their spouse or civil partner. Couples will also be able to jointly apply for divorce, unlike they have previously been able to, but even where only one party wants to apply for divorce, a sole application is possible. 

Some of the significant changes to the divorce law under the new legislation include: 

  • Removal of the five facts used to prove the breakdown of the marriage 
  • Removal of the need for fault or blame 
  • Allowing for joint divorce applications 
  • Preventing respondents from contesting the divorce application
  • Updating the divorce language, for example: 
    • ‘Decree Nisi’ will change to ‘Conditional Order’ 
    • ‘Decree Absolute’ will change to ‘Final Order’
    • ‘Petitioner’ will change to ‘Applicant’
  • Introducing a minimum of 20 weeks between the Application and the Conditional Order 

Do you need a solicitor for no fault divorce?

Whilst the new requirements to divorce may seem far more straightforward than the current arrangements, it is still essential to have legal advice and assistance, especially as there are important matters to arrange, such as arrangements for the children and financial matters, including division of assets and paying bills. 

Contact us today

Are you looking for advice and assistance regarding divorce? Call us on 01476 404 104 or click the make an enquiry contact form at the top of the page.