No fault divorce is due to come into effect in England and Wales in April 2022.
The Government confirmed in April 2019 that divorce law in England and Wales would be changing, with the introduction of no fault divorce. This means that couples will be able to get divorced without one person needing to blame the other. This change in the law will also apply to civil partnership dissolution too.
How will “No fault divorce” work
Here is a summary of the changes to divorce law from April 2022.
1. Couples will be able to apply for divorce jointly
Under current laws, the petitioner needs to issue divorce proceedings against the other (the respondent). Under the no fault divorce system, (the term petitioner will be replaced by applicant) both people will be able to make the application jointly.
2. Divorce can be granted without the need for one spouse blaming the other
The most important element of no fault divorce is, of course, the removal of fault or blame from the divorce process. Under the new laws, couples will be able to get divorced solely on the basis that the marriage has broken down. This removes the need to cite one of the 5 current reasons for divorce.
If a couple agree to a divorce and the divorce is amicable or uncontested, there won’t be a requirement for one person to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage.
3. It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce
Under the current system, one person submits a divorce petition, citing their spouse’s behaviour or a period of separation as the reason for the divorce, and their spouse can contest this. This always causes contention making the whole process much longer than required. Under the new no fault divorce system, this option will be removed.
4. There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between application and divorce becoming final
A minimum timeframe of 20 weeks has been introduced to counter concerns that the reforms will make divorce a quicker and easier option for couples than trying to save their marriage. This ‘cooling-off period’ will give couples an opportunity to reflect and work through their differences before committing to a divorce.
Divorces will take a mimimum of 6 months to complete taking this cooling-off period into account.
The new divorce process will still involve the two stages of decree nisi and decree absolute, but the names of these will change. The decree nisi will become a conditional order of divorce and the decree absolute will become the final order of divorce.
Contact Divorce Negotiator on 0800 177 7702 or 01256 630156