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Divorce & Separation

No-Fault Divorce

As of 6 April 2022, separating couples are now able to get a divorce or legal separation without having to blame each other for the breakdown of their relationship. 

This new law has introduced what’s known as no-fault divorce and encourages a more straightforward and amicable approach to separation. It promotes reconciliation and reflection, and trusting the judgment of the couple involved.

Prior to this, separating couples were required to rely on one of the ‘five facts’ to prove the reasoning for divorce and the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (which became law in April 2022), introduced no-fault divorce as well as the following changes:

  • Updated the divorce language:
    • ‘Decree Absolute’ has become ‘Final Order’
    • ‘Decree Nisi’ has become ‘Conditional Order’
    • ‘Petitioner’ has become ‘Applicant’
    • ‘Divorce Petition’ has become ‘Divorce Application’.
  • Introduced joint applications where both parties agree that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
  • Removed the ability to contest a divorce or separation.
  • Introduced a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the ‘Conditional Order’ can be made.

Timeframe

The no-fault divorce process is relatively straightforward. Proceedings can take a minimum of 26 weeks to finalise which includes the two separate minimum waiting periods: the 20-week waiting period for the Conditional Order and a further 6-week waiting period for the Final Order. In total therefore, couples will have to wait at least 6 months for their divorce to finalise. This time is intended to be a period of reflection for both parties to consider whether they really want to separate.

The Process

An application for a no-fault divorce requires names and addresses of both parties and the original (or a certified copy) of the marriage certificate.

If a sole application is made, the court will send a copy of the divorce application to the other spouse. They are then required to confirm receipt of the application and send an ‘acknowledgement of service’ form back to the court within 14 days.

Other factors, including the division of finances and arrangements for children, add extra consideration and complexity to the process.

How we can help

No-fault divorce affects the proceedings related to the process of legally ending the marriage. It does not relate to the separation of finances or arrangements for children.

While the process of divorce is now much more straightforward, it is still important to speak to expert divorce and separation solicitors, who can guide you through the process.