Updated: Sep 29, 2022
The outdated and very often contentious Divorce law in England and Wales is due to have a much-needed overhaul, with new changes coming into force on 6 April 2022. The biggest change being the removal of a fault-based Divorce, to a much needed ‘No Fault’ divorce.
Under the new legislation coming into force, if a marriage or civil partnership has broken down, the parties can apply for a divorce on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown. All that is now required is a statement of irretrievable breakdown and gone are the requirements to evidence conduct (such as Unreasonable Behaviour and Adultery) or a period of separation, which has very often led to further acrimony and upset between the parties.
Importantly, the ability to defend the Divorce application (except for very limited circumstances) has also been removed, and the parties are now able to make a joint application to the court for a divorce (or dissolution / separation). This means that separating couples are now able to apply for the divorce together.
The legislation als
o updates the legal terminology used, with the language being updated with the following:
The hope is t
hat the new terminology will allow the process to become much simpler and more accessible to those outside of the legal profession.
A ‘period of reflection’ has been built into the process, meaning that once the Divorce application has been issued, a conditional order cannot be applied for until a minimum time frame of 20 weeks. Upon granting of the conditional order by the court, the parties must wait a further 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for the final order. Therefore, the minimum total time frame for a divorce (or dissolution) is now 26 weeks. However, it is worth bearing in mind that there may well be court delays, and so the time frame could be a little longer.
f the parties are also wishing to reach an agreement regarding their finances, we always recommend that our clients do not apply for the final order (Decree Absolute using the old language) until the financial agreement has been reached.
What about the costs involved?
As parties can now apply jointly for a divorce, the parties are able to agree together how to pay the Court fee of £593.00. However, if the application has been made online using the digital service, applicant 1 will be responsible for paying the court fee. If the parties are using a paper-based system, either applicant can provide their payment details on the form.