New laws surrounding the divorce process came into force on 6th April 2022.
Under the new guidelines, you will no longer be required to choose one of the ‘five facts’ for divorce and parties are able to proceed on a no-fault basis.
It is hoped that by removing the need to rely on any fault, this will help to reduce conflict between couples who may otherwise have been encouraged to rely on a fault-based fact to progress the divorce.
It may also help to reduce any stress or emotional issues commonly associated with divorce.
It remains unchanged that you must have been married for at least one year before any application for divorce can be made.
Here, our Accredited Family Mediator Elizabeth Morris explains what the changes mean.
The language used within divorce proceedings has now been modernised and simplified.
- The divorce “petition” will now be the divorce “application.”
- The person submitting the divorce application will no longer be called the “petitioner” and instead the term “applicant” will be used.
- The first step of divorce previously known as the “Decree Nisi” will now be referred to as the ‘Conditional Order.’
- The final step of the divorce previously known as the “Decree Absolute” will now be referred to as the “Final Order.”
Either spouse or both of them together will now be able to apply for a divorce. If, throughout the process, joint applicants feel they cannot continue with the application jointly, one of them can continue with the case as a sole applicant.
When the application is made, the applicant(s) will need to provide the court with a statement which will simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The court fee for making the divorce application remains £593.00 and the application will be made via an online portal.
The court must accept the statement of irretrievable breakdown as evidence that the marriage has broken down. There will be no opportunity for the respondent to defend or cross apply for the divorce. The only exceptions are:
- The validity of the existence of marriage is questioned.
- The court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
- The respondent has filed an application for a matrimonial/civil partnership order and that party’s application has not yet been dealt with.
A minimum of 20 weeks must elapse from when the application is filed with the court until parties are then able to apply for the Conditional Order. This is to allow the parties a period of ‘meaningful reflection’ to ensure they have a chance to try and work through any differences prior to committing to the divorce.
After the 20 weeks has passed, the applicant(s) must confirm to the court that they want to proceed with the application before the Conditional Order is made. Either party can apply for the Conditional Order regardless of who made the initial application.
A Final Order can then be made six weeks after the Conditional Order. Either party or both parties can apply for the Final Order regardless of who made the initial application. This period of time is given to allow the parties to resolve any financial and/or child related issues. Applying for the Final Order after these issues have been resolved gives protection to the parties. Therefore, the minimum overall time for a divorce process will be 26 weeks.
Why a no-fault divorce is a good idea?
As neither party needs to allege fault for the divorce to proceed, this means there is likely to be less hostility between the parties and those who feel ‘stuck’ in a marriage may feel able to begin the divorce process, particularly those in abusive relationships. It may make it easier for the parties to amicably resolve any financial and/or child related matters.
Removes the need to wait
Those couples who have agreed to a divorce will no longer need to wait two years to proceed with a divorce on a consensual basis. Many find it isn’t financially viable to live as two separate households for two years before starting divorce proceedings and formally reaching a financial settlement.
Avoids the parties having to come up with grounds of behaviour to proceed with the divorce
No spouse will have to provide documented examples of behaviour that they found intolerable to live with in circumstances where there was fault on both sides or simply that the couple has grown apart.
Financial and Child Matters
The new law doesn’t change the rules regarding financial settlements or child arrangements. Therefore, expert legal advice and representation will remain vital for anyone going through the divorce process. Our family solicitors can provide you with advice and your options to ensure you proceed with your divorce, financial and child matters in the best way to suit your circumstances.
05 May, 2022
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