No Fault Divorce – Everything you need to know

No Fault Divorce becomes law on 6 April 2022. The main changes to the Divorce law and procedure is set out below.

Couples can obtain a Divorce without blaming the other

The sole ground for Divorce that a marriage has irretrievably broken down remains. The new law has removed the blame element from Divorce proceedings – there is now no need to prove one of five facts which are set out in our legal update ‘No Fault Divorce – the new law’.

Couples can apply for a Divorce jointly

Under the current law only one party can apply for a Divorce. The new law allows couples to apply for a Divorce jointly (or one party can still apply).

Divorce terminology has been updated

The Divorce Petition is now called the Divorce Application. The person applying for the Divorce is now called the Applicant instead of the Petitioner. The person responding to the Divorce is still called the Respondent. The Decree Nisi is now called the Conditional Order. The Decree Absolute is now called the Final Order.

It is no longer possible to contest a Divorce

Under the current law it is possible for the other party to contest or defend the Divorce proceedings. The new law has removed the possibility of the other party contesting or defending the Divorce proceedings save for cases where that party believes the Court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the Divorce proceedings, they can prove the marriage was never valid or if the marriage or civil partnership has already legally ended.

Minimum of 20 weeks between Divorce Application and Conditional Order

There will be a minimum timeframe of 20 weeks between the Divorce Application and the Conditional Order. This has been introduced to give couples a time for reflection.  This period can also be used to agree finances.  Although this time period appears to extend the length of Divorce proceedings actually in practice it does not as it is common to agree not to apply for the Decree Absolute (now Final Order) until the financial matters have been agreed.

Minimum of 6 weeks between Conditional Order and Final Order

The minimum timeframe of 6 weeks between Conditional Order (previously Decree Nisi) and Final Order (previously Decree Absolute) will be kept.

Look out for our next legal update ‘No Fault Divorce – do I need a solicitor’.

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.