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  • Overview

    Published December 2021

    2022 will see the introduction of the long awaited no fault divorce system in the UK. For many years, and under the current system, the only way for couples to divorce immediately is to attribute blame to one party, either based on one party’s adultery or their unreasonable behaviour. If these options do not apply, couples must wait until they had been separated for two years before starting divorce proceedings.

    The current rules have been criticised for creating unnecessary conflict between couples wanting an immediate divorce, by forcing one to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage, even where that may not be justified. 

    The no fault divorce system has been introduced under The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill and we hope that the new system will be available to use in April 2022.

    What is the new system?

    Under the new system, the ground for the divorce will stay the same – that the marriage has irretrievably broken down – but the need for one party to evidence that breakdown by blaming the other party will be removed.

    The new system will update the language that we currently use in divorce proceedings, for example, the ‘petitioner’ will now be the ‘applicant’ and a ‘decree nisi’ will now be a ‘conditional order’.

    A real positive of the new system is the introduction of the option of joint applications, where a couple agree that the relationship has irretrievably broken down and can jointly apply for a divorce.

    The new system will remove the ability for one party to contest a divorce where a joint application has not been made.

    The new system sets a minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the conditional order can be made and retains the six week minimum period between conditional order and final order. That means that the whole process should be concluded in around six to seven months. During that period, couples can be dealing with the other issues arising from their separation, such as financial matters and the arrangements for their children.

    What does this mean for divorcing couples?

    Couples will finally be able to deal with their divorce proceedings immediately without having to add blame and conflict to what is already a very difficult time in their lives. This will hopefully serve to keep matters more amicable between them and encourage a more harmonious approach to other issues arising from their separation, such as financial matters or the arrangements for children.

    Couples will also have a clearer idea on the timescale for the divorce proceedings and will be able to deal with the proceedings online, simplifying the process.

  • Related Services

    Family

    Dealing with the legal aspects of a relationship or family breakdown requires a thorough knowledge of the law and a tactful, understanding approach.

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Jargon Buster