The so called “no fault divorce” system is due to come into force on the 6th April 2022. The major change to the divorce reform is that the concept of fault (adultery or unreasonable behaviour) or a period of separation are effectively being done away with. Under the new law, either one or indeed both spouses, jointly, simply make a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, that statement in itself is conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and will enable the Court to make a Divorce Order.
There is still a two stage process. Currently speaking after a Petition for Divorce is filed and the normal procedure is gone through, a Decree Nisi of Divorce is pronounced which effectively is the Court certifying that they are satisfied that the grounds for divorce have been proved. There is then a statutory waiting period of 6 weeks and 1 day before you can apply for the Decree Absolute.
Under the new system, we still have a two stage approach but the concept of Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute are being removed. Under the new Act, the terminology is going to change, a Decree Nisi will from September be known as a “Conditional Divorce Order”. The Decree Absolute will become known as “Final Divorce Order”. There is a timing requirement in the sense that at least 20 weeks must pass between the filing of a Divorce Petition to the making of the Conditional Divorce Order. There is still the statutory period between Conditional Divorce Order and Final Divorce Order of 6 weeks. This means under the new law a divorce will take a minimum of 26 weeks.
In reality, many divorces under the current law take more than 26 weeks in any event as the parties often are negotiating children matters or financial matters prior to the divorce concluding. Somewhat ironically, especially since the pandemic, the majority of divorces are now done on the online divorce portal which actually have speeded up considerably the timescales between the start of the process to Decree Nisi. In reality, often to under the 20 week period that will now become mandatory. Whilst the new procedure therefore may represent a step backwards insofar as timescales are concerned, what it does give is certainty with regard to timescales and also the removal of the fault concept of marriage breakdown.
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If you like advice about divorce, or indeed any aspect of Family Law, come and talk to us. We have a large team of specialist Family Lawyers able to advise you on all areas, we charge a discounted fixed fee of £150, VAT inclusive, which includes a comprehensive letter of advice so that you can have a clear understanding of the divorce process and any associated issues such as finance and children matters.