No Fault Divorce – It’s Finally Here!

The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act was finally implemented on 6th April 2022.

So what’s changed?

1. Parties will no longer need to rely upon a fact to prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down (such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour or 2 years separation with the other’s consent). Hence reference to the new divorces being ‘no fault’;

2. It will no longer be possible for a respondent to contest the divorce, save for challenging the divorce for reasons such as jurisdiction, validity of marriage, fraud or procedural compliance;

3. Terminology has also changed. For example, a petitioner will now be known as an applicant and the decree absolute will now be known as a divorce order;

4. Time frames are slightly different. For example, the introduction of the requirement that an applicant (petitioner) must wait 20 weeks from the day the application (divorce petition) was issued before they can apply for the conditional order (decree nisi). This may impact upon how long a divorce may take and also impact upon when parties can file a financial order by consent or commence financial remedy proceedings;

5. Parties can now apply on a joint basis;

6. The seeking of a cost order appears to be discouraged, but not prohibited. Previously it was quite common for a petitioner to seek an order for costs against a respondent when a ‘fault’ based petition had been filed and such a claim was included in the petition itself rather than making a separate application.

Are there any similarities to the previous divorce legislation?

1. There is still only one ground for divorce, which is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;

2. The same court fee of £593 is required to be paid (and for those who are eligible, you can still apply for fee remission);

3. Applications are still to be made via the court’s on-line portal;

4. The procedure is still similar i.e. issue of application (petition); where it is not a joint application – respondent to file acknowledgement of service; apply for conditional order (decree nisi) and then apply for divorce order (decree absolute);

5. The end result is still the same, a divorce order (decree absolute) dissolves the parties’ marriage;

6. The same financial orders and the same section 25 criteria is still applied in respect of the parties’ financial claims arising from the divorce.

We at Lanyon Bowdler are here to advise and assist you in respect of your divorce and issues arising from the same (such as negotiating a financial settlement or resolving the arrangements for the children). We offer a discounted fixed fee hour appointment where many of these issues can be discussed at the outset. For more details please contact one of our offices via telephone or via email.