On the 6th of April 2022, divorce law changed in landmark reforms which saw the introduction of No-Fault Divorce, replacing the old system. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), represents one of the most significant changes in divorce law for more than half a century. This blog looks at some of the most frequently asked questions about the reforms and the changes
The law on divorce has now changed, and No-Fault Divorce has replaced the old system. Changes came into effect on 6th April 2022. This blog discusses the changes to divorce procedures, timeframes and what it means for couples who are already going through a divorce.
What are some differences between No-Fault Divorce and the old divorce laws?
Under the previous law, to get a divorce in England and Wales, you were required to show your marriage had irretrievably broken down, confirming one of the following factors:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Two-year separation with consent to the divorce
- Five-year separation
- Desertion – for at least two years
In other words, unless separated for at least two years, one party had to say that their spouse’s behaviour was the reason for the marriage ending.
Under the new divorce reforms, this is no longer necessary, removing the need to show your spouse has been unreasonable, committed adultery or waited for two to five years to prove an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The application now contains a statement in which you confirm that the marriage has irretrievably broken down but without the need to assign blame. It is also possible to jointly file an application for divorce whereby you will both be termed ‘applicants’ instead of having an ‘applicant’ and a ‘respondent’.
Under the new reforms it is much harder to contest a divorce. Under the new No-Fault Divorce system, a divorce or civil partnership can only be contested based on jurisdiction and not for any other reason.
There will be a minimum period of six months, meaning that it will no longer be possible to get divorced in less than six months.
What are the updates to the divorce terminology?
With the updates to the divorce laws, there have also been changes to the language used:
- The Divorce petition is now known as an ‘Application’
- A Petitioner is now known as an ‘Applicant’
- The Decree Nisi has been changed to a ‘Conditional Order’
- A Decree Absolute has been changed to a ‘Final Order’
What are the new application timeframes under No-Fault Divorce?
Following an application to the court, there is now a compulsory waiting period of 20 weeks between the petition for the divorce and when you will be granted a conditional divorce order. Following this, there is a mandatory waiting period of 6 weeks after the conditional order before you can apply for the final order, legally bringing your marriage or civil partnership to an end. You can file for your financial consent order with the court once you have received your conditional order (if you have one), and this will need to be sealed (agreed) by the court before applying for your final divorce order.
How long will it all take to get divorced?
If the entire process runs smoothly and there are no issues or delays, the shortest time you can get divorced will be six months. This considers the 20-week waiting period from when the application is issued and the subsequent waiting period between the conditional order and the final order application. However, this timeframe does not factor in the court processing times, which may well extend this timescale.
What if i started divorce proceedings before 6th April 2022?
If you already started divorce proceedings before no-fault divorce came into force, it does not affect the application. However, your divorce will continue under the old rules and terminology – such as receiving a Decree Absolute at the conclusion. Although, if you wanted to restart the proceedings to change the divorce to be ‘no-fault’, you can, but this would incur a fee for an application to withdraw your current proceedings and then the court costs for issuing the new proceedings.
Can I get divorced without a solicitor?
You can file for divorce yourself using the government portal or an online divorce service. But this is only starting the divorce part of the process. The financial arrangements or child arrangements will likely need to be agreed upon separately, and it is important to seek appropriate legal advice before taking any action or making hasty decisions. Financial arrangements should be finalised in a court order, even if you believe you have reached an amicable agreement. Without one, you are at risk of financial claims or disputes in the future, even after the divorce has been completed. The court’s primary concern will always be the child’s welfare when making decisions on child arrangements. These aspects of ending a marriage or civil partnership can be complex and require careful consideration and advice.
Even if you want to start the divorce process yourself, taking legal advice before beginning divorce proceedings will ensure you have considered all the legal and practical issues that will impact you and your family.
What No-Fault Divorce Solicitors Gloucestershire
Even with a seemingly more straightforward no-fault divorce process, we realise that the legal process of getting a divorce can seem daunting, especially at what will likely be a challenging and emotional time. At Langley Wellington LLP Solicitors, our experienced solicitors are experts in all areas of family law, and we can assist with divorce, financial settlement, and separation agreements.
For further advice on divorce and other family law matters, please contact our Family Law team today by calling 01452 521 286.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please get in touch with our team of solicitors