Government announces “No Fault” Divorce to become law on 6 April 2022

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The long awaited Act for “no fault” divorce was passed in June 2020. It is now due to become law on 6 April 2022.

Under current legislation parties can only apply for a divorce, if they prove to the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down and that one of the 5 facts are relevant to their marriage breakdown. In short, an element of blame must be put on the receiving party of the application (unless they are relying on separation). This has been known to add unnecessary animosity, stress and increased costs to an already fragile situation. Under the new legislation, the fault element will be removed. A welcome change for many.

With this change around the corner, here is a brief overview of how those thinking to divorce will be impacted:

No need for blame

Under the new legislation, couples can divorce without having to cite blame. They will no longer need to rely on one of the 5 facts (behaviour, adultery, 5 years separation, 2 years separation with consent, desertion).

The application cannot be contested

As the element of fault will be removed, the divorce application cannot be contested. It is hoped that by removing the blame game, couples will be able to pursue an amicable and cost-effective divorce, without the fear of their application being contested.

N.B. The application can still be contested on the grounds of the validity of the marriage.

 An option for a joint application

Currently, only one spouse can apply for the divorce. The new system will allow both parties to apply on a joint and amicable basis.

Removal of legal jargon

Changes will be made to the language used. For example, currently the first stage of the divorce is known as “Decree Nisi”. This will be changed to “ Conditional Order”. The final stage of the divorce is currently referred to as “Decree Absolute”. This will be referred to as “Final Order”.

These changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships. It is hoped that the above will simplify the current process and make it less contentious. IBB will be ready to implement and support these changes.

Our divorce and finance solicitor Prabhleen Kundhi comments:

“The abandonment of fault blamed divorce is a welcome change for many practitioners, like myself, who have clients waiting to start proceedings without having to cite blame.  I often have difficult conversations with clients who do not want to antagonise an already emotional situation by placing blame on their spouse or fear of repercussions if they are in an abusive relationship. The law relating to no-fault divorce will, in my view, reduce conflict, allowing couples to focus on important issues such as children and finances. It will also remove the difficult and costly circumstances where one party contests the divorce on the fact relied on”.

Thinking about getting divorced? Speak to our specialist divorce lawyers today.

IBB Law’s family law practice can provide expert advice on all divorce issues. To contact the family law team please email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk or call 03456 381381.