The new ‘No-Fault Divorce’
Currently, in order to divorce in England and Wales, couples are either required to show that there has been a period of separation or to use the ‘blame game’ by making accusations regarding one party’s conduct such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour. The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which is set to become law on 6th April 2022, will introduce the concept of ‘No Fault Divorce’ which will mean that couples will no longer need to apportion blame. All these changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
What changes will the ‘No Fault Divorce’ bring?
- The biggest change to the current procedure is the removal of blame. All a couple will need to do is to produce a joint statement stating that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, given that the ‘fault’ element has been removed, parties will no longer be able to defend the divorce.
- Currently, to initiate divorce, one spouse needs to issue the proceedings against the other and they therefore become ‘the Petitioner’ and ‘the Respondent’. The new ‘No Fault Divorce’ procedure will mean that parties can make a joint application.
- There will also be a change in the language that is used. Currently, the key stages for divorce are known as ‘Decree Nisi’ and ‘Decree Absolute’. The new procedure will remove this legal jargon and will replace it with the terms ‘Conditional Order’ (Decree Nisi) and ‘Final Order’ (Decree Absolute).
- There will be a new minimum timeframe of 20 weeks from when the divorce application is created to when the Conditional Order is granted. This will allow a ‘cooling off’ period so that a couple can be sure that they are making the right decision.
It is hoped that these changes will create a more amicable process for divorce and will therefore help to reduce conflict during what can be a very stressful time. Furthermore, given that this is a simpler process, the ‘No Fault Divorce’ should provide an easier, less expensive and quicker divorce.
Olivia Horseman – Paralegal