‘No fault’ – based divorce is coming soon.

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Michelle Bowyer, Associate Solicitor – Family Team

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is almost upon us with implementation date set for 6th April 2022. Here is a brief explanation of the practical consequences of this seismic change in matrimonial proceedings:

  • Removal of the need to rely upon conduct or separation and replaced with a statement of irretrievable breakdown. Client’s no longer having to place blame upon their spouse for the cause of the marriage breakdown.
  • Removal of the ability to defend a divorce.
  • Allowing a joint application for a divorce.
  • Introduction of a new minimum timeframe of 20 weeks between date of issue of application and when you can apply for a conditional order (formerly known as a decree nisi)
  • You must wait 6 weeks from date of conditional order before you can apply for the final order (formerly known as a decree absolute).
  • Updated terminology: Petition will become “application”, petitioner will become “applicant”, and if a joint application, the parties will be identified as “applicant 1” and “applicant 2”.
  • All applications must be submitted online. Any paper applications submitted after 31st March will be returned and no applications can be issued between 4.00pm on 31st March and 10.00am on 6th April whilst the court digital system is being updated.
  • The new form will allow a sole applicant or joint applicants.
  • The 20-week period after date of issue is designed for “reflection” and can be utilised to discuss financial arrangements or arrangements for the children.
  • As with the current law, we may well advise clients to refrain from pursuing application for the final order until financial arrangements have been agreed upon and documented (as in some circumstances it may be prejudicial to do so).

If clients require advice or assistance with regard to their marriage breakdown, or in relation to the financial consequences of their separation, the family law team at Bevirs Law is able to assist.