No fault divorce

6th April 2022 will see the introduction of the long awaited “no fault” divorce process.

For the last 165 years, most people wishing to obtain a divorce in court have had to do so by blaming the other spouse for the breakdown of their marriage. This has often led to high levels of acrimony and anxiety at what was already a difficult time for separating families. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 ends this “blame game” and will allow couples to divorce based on the simple fact of irretrievable breakdown without the requirement for any further details or evidence. There are only very limited circumstances in which that divorce can be opposed.

For the first time couples will be able to present joint applications for divorce and the antiquated language of “Decree Nisi”, “Petitioner” and “Decree Absolute” is swept away in favour of plain English. The new divorce process will take a minimum of 26 weeks.

It is important to realise that, while the new divorce process has been simplified and stripped of conflict, couples still need to resolve the financial issues which arise from divorce and that this does not happen automatically as part of the divorce. There is no time limit for bringing financial claims after divorce and claims have been seen many years, and, in some cases, decades after the marriage ended. It is therefore crucial that a court order is obtained dealing with financial settlement at the time of the divorce. Where couples are agreed this can be dealt with on paper without the need for anyone to attend court. Only by doing this can couples have the security of knowing that their finances are secure after their divorce.

Courts no longer routinely scrutinise arrangements for children on divorce preferring parents to make the best decisions over their children. Only where parents disagree are the courts involved and only then if a parent applies for a court order.

It is hoped that these huge changes in divorce law will go a small way to make the emotional process of ending a marriage a little less trying for those involved.

If you would like advice on your family situation, visit our Family Law/Divorce page, or contact us today.

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