No Fault Divorce – the latest news

Category: Divorce, Family

It has been announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force on 6th April 2022. This is more commonly known as the no fault divorce.

The current situation

The current law requires the Court to be convinced that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. To achieve this a divorce petition can be based on one of the following five facts;

  1. The Respondent’s adultery;
  2. Behaviour of the Respondent;
  3. The Respondent’s desertion;
  4. Parties involved have lived separately for more than two years and the Respondent consents to a divorce;
  5. The parties have lived separately for in excess of five years.

With three of these five facts, the Respondent is formally blamed for the breakdown of the marriage. The fourth reason is currently regarded as the ‘friendliest’ way of bringing about divorce proceedings. However, this can cause delay as the petition cannot be lodged with the Court until two years after the parties’ separation. For some couples this delay presents no issue. But for many it’s quite important (perhaps for financial and/or emotional reasons) that they conclude their divorce proceedings quickly. In order to achieve that, they are forced to use one of the other facts. “Behaviour” is the most commonly used.

Family lawyers can assist a Petitioner in drafting the allegations of behaviour within a petition as mildly as possible. However, the Petition needs to be strong enough for the divorce to go through.  Tempers are often stretched at the end of a relationship and the subsequent divorce. So any reduction in dispute between parties is positive.


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The move to No Fault Divorce

The change in the law is designed to take away the need for any allegations of fault and blame from the divorce process. The new law retains irretrievable breakdown as the sole legal ground for divorce and dissolution but replaces the current requirement to evidence irretrievable breakdown with one of the five facts listed above with a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.

For the first time this statement could be made on a joint basis giving some couples the opportunity to reflect their mutual decision to divorce. It will also remove the possibility of contesting the decision to end the legal relationship. A statement of irretrievable breakdown will be conclusive evidence to the court that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.

20 weeks minimum period

There will be a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the applicant or the joint applicants can confirm to the court that a Conditional Order (currently known as Decree Nisi) may be ​made. There is currently no minimum period. The change in the law is not therefore designed to bring about a “quickie divorce”. It has a built-in time period during which parties can reflect. The period of 6 weeks after the Conditional Order and the Final Order (currently known as Decree Absolute) will still apply.

The minimum 20 week period could give parties who are sure they wish to separate, time to reach agreement about dividing their finances and to agree arrangements for spending time with their children. Once all matters are resolved, these agreements can be tied up with the conclusion of divorce proceedings which will have progressed without either party formally having to take any blame for the breakdown of the relationship.

In my view, this new legislation is a welcome change in the divorce process.

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We can help

If you’re thinking of divorcing or separating from your partner, the earlier you can get legal advice, the better. Our Family team are here to help you throughout the whole process.

Resolution

At Nash & Co Solicitors, all of our lawyers are Resolution lawyers. As a team, we’ve signed up to the Resolution Code of Practice. Therefore, the letters we write to you and the other parties are written in a way to encourage everyone to work together. We want to bring the parties together rather then pushing them further apart, because this approach will enable everyone to come up with a better and more workable plan moving forwards.

Prescribing to Resolution is something that’s at the heart of the Nash & Co Family law team. Indeed we stand by the importance of acting in this way. We’re well aware that your family will last way beyond the time in which your file remains open with us. So we want to help you create something workable, easy to follow and long lasting.

What now?

Whether you are looking for a no fault divorce or not, our Family team would love to help you. And please rest assured that we’ll do everything that we can. We’d suggest that you give us a call on 01752 827030 and we can have a brief chat. The most important thing for us is that we are able to give you advice that helps you. You can also email us at [email protected] or request a call back by filling out our Contact Form.

We really look forward to hearing from you.