On 6th April 2022 new legislation allowed for no fault divorces and brought in long awaited reforms and a “shake up” in an area of law that has not changed for almost 50 years.
What does this change mean?
Under the new ‘no fault divorce’ law, separating couples no longer have to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage by alleging blame, e.g. that a party has behaved unreasonably or has committed adultery. Instead the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 avoids the “blame game” and therefore reduces the potential for conflict between the separating couple. Put simply, as from 6th April 2022, if one party in a couple wants a divorce then they are no longer forced to prove a grievance or potentially even be forced to stay married if the other party does not agree with their reasons for a divorce.
The new Act not only introduces a ‘no fault divorce’ but also importantly removes the ability for a party to contest a divorce. There is no need to have concern about a party contesting a divorce and the worry has been removed that parties could be forced to go to Court over divorce; which will save them considerable time, expenditure on legal costs and stress. There is now an introduction of joint applications where both parties can agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and therefore can present a joint application for divorce which will provide for a more amicable separation.
How long will a divorce take?
There are new timescales for divorcing whereby most couples will have to wait a new minimum period of 20 weeks between starting the proceedings and applying for a Conditional Order of divorce. There will be a 6 week period between the Conditional and Final Orders of divorce being processed and therefore a divorce in the future will take a minimum of 6 months to be finalised. This time is intended to be a period of reflection for both parties to be absolutely certain that they truly want to separate. During this period of reflection, a couple can then concentrate their minds on dividing up their property and finances, sorting out child arrangements, considering maintenance arrangements and the division of any pension pots.
Karen Kenyon, a family solicitor at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers is of the view that:
“A change in the divorce law is long overdue, as the current law is outdated and has had a tendency to potentially increase animosity and acrimony in already difficult circumstances. In this day and age, it is unfair that a couple is forced to stay together even if they have tried to make their marriage work but have been unsuccessful.”
“Archaic language is being removed from the divorce process so in the future a Decree Nisi of divorce would become a Conditional Order and a Decree Absolute of divorce will become a Final Order.”
“There is now going to be a more accessible divorce system which to a large extent will reduce the pain of a divorce and will enable individuals feeling trapped in an unhappy and potentially abusive relationship to terminate their marriage and move on more easily in a less acrimonious manner.”
To reflect the simplified process, Pearson Solicitors offer a competitively priced fixed fee divorce(this information was correct at the time of publication 20/8/22″
“However, there can be two very important aspects to divorcing – children and finances so it’s imperative to seek legal representation as there is a real risk that one party will lose out and this is where our experts really do come into play. We quote separately on children and financial matters as this is dependent on individual circumstances.”