The new “No Fault Divorce” is nearly here - so what does this legal change mean for divorcing couples?

The long-awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is set to come into force on 6 April 2022.

What does this mean?

This will introduce a “No Fault Divorce” meaning any divorce application only needs to detail that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. As of 6 April 2022, a divorce application does not need to particularise the facts by citing adultery, unreasonable behaviour or waiting for at least two years of separation before starting a divorce.

How does that help?

Under the current law (or soon to be old law) the person applying for the divorce had to “blame” the other person or wait to be separated for two years before starting the divorce.

This new law eliminates the need to “blame” the other person and it is hoped that this will reduce hostility and conflict in what is already an extremely difficult and fraught time. It is hoped that proper focus can then be given to resolving and agreeing the arrangements regarding the children and financial resolution.

What will the new “No Fault Divorce” look like?

An application for divorce can be made jointly together or separately. There are pros and cons for each of these and legal advice should be sought as to which option is best.

The terminology is changing, removing the legal jargon and using plain language, as follows:

Pre 6 April 2022 – the old law From 6 April 2022 – the new law
Petitioner Applicant
Divorce Petition Application
Decree Nisi Conditional Order
Decree Absolute Divorce Order

This is a bold move to remove outdated Latin phrases and bring the divorce process more in line with modern dealings.

The divorce will take a minimum period of 26 weeks; 20 weeks from the date of the issued Application up to the Conditional Order to allow time to reflect on the Application and then confirm again that the divorce should proceed. Once the Conditional Order has been granted then the Divorce Order can be applied for 6 weeks after the date of the Conditional Order. Whilst the divorce will take a minimum of 26 weeks, in practice this may take a little longer.

There is no ability to defend a “No Fault Divorce”. A “No Fault Divorce” can only be contested on the grounds of jurisdiction, fraud and issues of compliance. It is important to obtain legal advice to check for any of these issues.

What about the finances and arrangements regarding the children?

These remain separate issues to the divorce. It is vitally important that the financial consequences of divorce are dealt with at the same time, as the final Divorce Order does not bring an end to financial matters. It is only a Court Order that specifically deals with the financial arrangements (known as a Financial Remedy Order) that concludes the financial claims. Such financial claims remain open until there is a binding Financial Remedy Order in place. Legal advice should always be sought when thinking about and discussing the finances.

We are experts at dealing with financial resolution and are regularly instructed on difficult financial matters that include business assets, agricultural land and farming assets, foreign assets, complex pension structures and trusts. Early legal advice should be sought so that we can advise you regarding the finances and help you reach a resolution as smoothly as possible.

It is essential that the arrangements regarding the children are carefully thought about and we want to help you reach agreements regarding the children; whether that is where the children live, how often they spend time with each parent or specific issues such a schooling or medical issues. Parents are the best people to make the right decisions about their children and we want to support you in making those decisions.

If you would like to discuss any of this or any family matter then please contact Laura Martin or Julie Keogh on 01258 483605 or or 

Blanchards Bailey

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