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Coming into force on 6 April 2022

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 introduced the “no fault divorce” (also referred to as “no blame divorce”) as from 6 April 2022. It covers marriage, civil partnership and nullity. This new law will reform the divorce process to remove the concept of fault to a ‘no fault divorce’. The new divorce law will therefore remove the need for blame in divorce proceedings so that the divorce can in effect proceed in a neutral way. It also removes the ability to defend the decision to divorce. The only requirement now is to provide a “statement of irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage or civil partnership.

Key changes about the new divorce law

  • The only requirement is to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
    No need to establish one of the five facts such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery, 2 year separation, 5 year separation and desertion.
  • Sole or joint application.
    The initial divorce application can be filed by one party individually or both together. The latter is called a joint divorce application. Subsequent orders can be applied for either individually of jointly.
  • New minimum 26 weeks timeframe.
    Under the current divorce law, the divorce would normally take 4 to 5 months to be completed. A period of 6 weeks and one day also had to elapse between the decree nisi being pronounced and decree absolute being applied for. However, under the new law there is a minimum of 26 weeks which is split into two stages. The first stage being the 20 weeks ‘cooling off’ period between the initial divorce application and the conditional order (formerly called decree nisi) and another 6 weeks from conditional order to final order (formerly called decree absolute).
  • Ability to defend the divorce removed.
    Currently, the Respondent can defend the application if they disagree with the fact the Applicant has relied upon on the divorce. The new law allows the Respondent to dispute the divorce only on limited grounds including jurisdiction, validity of marriage or the subsistence of the marriage.
  • Updated legal terminology.
    Petitioner → Applicant
    Divorce petition → Divorce application
    Decree Nisi → Conditional Order
    Decree absolute → Final Order
    Decree of Nullity → Nullity of marriage order
    Decree of judicial separation → Judicial separation order
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