For years many lawyers have campaigned for a change to the old divorce laws, as they were built upon one party taking responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage, or if not, having to wait for a lengthy period (2 or 5 years) before the divorce could begin.
It is therefore pleasing to know the ‘blame-free’ process will finally come into force today, 6th April 2022 with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.
The new process is designed to reduce the opportunity for conflict when a relationship breaks down, as no blame needs to be attributed to either party. It also allows for a married couples to make a joint application, where appropriate.
It is hoped that a no-fault approach to divorce will allow couples to resolve arrangements for their children and for a financial settlement in a much more positive, collaborative and constructive way.
There is no change in the ground for divorce, i.e. there must be an irretrievable breakdown of the couples’ marriage. However instead of evidencing this by one of the five facts, (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent or five years’ separation) now a simple ‘statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably’ will be accepted as conclusive evidence of this by the court.
How will this new system work?
In very broad terms:-
• The application – one or both parties provide a statement to the court confirming that the marriage has broken down irretrievably;
• Service of the application – this is usually the court’s responsibility, by email. The court will also send a notice to the respondent’s postal address;
• Response of the respondent – they must reply to the application within 14 days;
• Period of reflection – this is 20 weeks from the date the proceedings start before the conditional order (formerly called Decree Nisi) can be made;
• Applying for the final order (formerly called Decree Absolute) – a period of six weeks must elapse after pronouncement of the conditional order, before the applicant can apply for a final order. A final order then ends the marriage.
If you are seeking a divorce or separation and require further advice about the new divorce process, how to resolve your financial differences or how to reach decisions involving your children, then please contact Sanjay Solanki firstname.lastname@example.org or Donna Weston email@example.com (or phone 01926 858522) to see how we can help.