As of April 6th 2022, and as a consequence of The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA) the law on divorce, dissolution and separation has been reformed. 

It is no longer necessary to apportion blame upon one party or wait for a minimum-two year separation period to petition for divorce. 

Why a ‘no-fault’ divorce?

The long-awaited ambition that caused this change has been to reduce the damaging impact that attempts to apportion blame can have on families, and specifically the effects on any children involved in a separation or divorce. 

The philosophy is an attempt to reduce the stress and anxiety in what can currently be a painful and damaging experience.  This is the biggest reform to divorce law in 50 years,

What changes to divorce law will there be?

The new law means parties can now amicably file an application for divorce together.

It is also possible for Applicants to file a sole application if their spouse does not agree. If an application has started jointly, but one party does not co-operate, the other party can progress the application alone.

Sole or joint applications will simply include a statement of irretrievable breakdown

No evidence is required beyond this statement.  There is no ability for a party to challenge a divorce application for malicious reasons, however the legalities of jurisdiction or validity of the marriage can still be disputed.

Email will become the default method of service, with the Court sending the application to the Respondent’s usual email address.

The terminology has also been updated from the Latin:

Old term: New term:
Petition Applicant
Decree Nisi Conditional Order
Decree Absolute Final Order

Timescales under the new law

The associated timescales have also changed. Under the new law, they will be:

  • Application filed online or on paper
  • Within 28 days of issue:
    • Respondent must be served, respondent has 14 days to acknowledge
    • If joint application, both parties must complete
  • 20 weeks after filing – Apply for Conditional Order
  • 6 weeks after Conditional Order – Apply for Final Order

How Cunningtons can help with a no-fault divorce

At Cunningtons our highly experienced, knowledgeable and empathetic lawyers are able to guide you through the process as amicably as possible.

We have been keeping an eye on the progress of the no-fault divorce throughout, from when it was initially proposed (No-fault Divorce Awaiting Introduction in Parliament), to when it was first debated in Parliament (No Fault Divorce: MPs vote), when it acheived the next step of Royal Assent (Royal Assent for the No Fault Divorce), and finally when a date was given for its enactment (No Fault Divorce Available from 2022).

Our Family Law Team are proud to be members of Resolution and, as you can see, have supported the campaign to reform Divorce Laws.

Contact our Family Law team

Our expert Family Law and Divorce team can offer out-of-hours appointments, either in person or remotely to suit your personal circumstances. We also have a fixed-fee scheme available, removing the worry of escalating costs.   

For more information, please contact our Family Law department.

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