A More Amicable Ending. The New No Fault Divorce

A revolutionary change in the UK divorce law has removed the toxic “blame culture.” The new rule change has given significant benefit to many families and also to survivors of domestic abuse, who welcomed the no fault divorce. The new legislation, Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Act 2020 came into force on 6 April 2022. It will allow couples to take part in the divorce process on an equal footing and without assigning blame. A spouse can apply to the court for a divorce by simply stating that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. The no fault law also applies to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

The new law will also remove the ability for a party to contest or defend a divorce except on very limited grounds i.e. the validity of the marriage or jurisdiction. A costs order against either party will be rare. Where there is no dispute and the parties have conducted proceedings in a reasonable manner, a costs order will be inappropriate. The parties’ litigation consider shall remain relevant, and if the court concludes litigation conduct has been unreasonable and costs have been incurred as a result, a costs awards may be made.

The new timeline for divorce will take 6 months. After the divorce application has been issued, a couple seeking to divorce will have to wait a minimum period of 20 weeks before they can apply for the Conditional order (formerly Decree Nisi). This window will allow couples to reflect, consider whether they want to go through a divorce, seek help to repair their relationship or reconcile. The final divorce Order (formerly Decree Absolute) can be applied for six weeks after the Conditional Order, which in practice is usually extended whilst the associated financial matters are concluded.

Since the introduction of no-fault divorce, it has been reported around 3000 couples have sought an end to their marriage, amounting to an average of 600 applications per day. Divorcing your spouse under the new system will become much easier on a human level, in a new streamlined process. The practicalities of this new arrangement steer the parties to a greater degree of cooperation, and it is hoped the new system is a genuine improvement from the old system. Couples will be able to focus on the principal issues being the welfare of the children of the marriage, a fair division of the assets and to resolve their issues in an amicable manner.

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