No Fault Divorce – New Divorce Law Changes

No Fault Divorce – New Divorce Law Changes

England and Wales are set to witness the biggest change to divorce law in a generation. From the 6th April 2022, for the first time, “no fault divorce” will not only be available to all, but there will also be no alternative to “no fault divorce” allowing couples to file for divorce jointly and amicably.   

The existing law on divorce dates back to 1973 which set out 5 reasons for divorce with “unreasonable behaviour” or “adultery” becoming the most common cited. So much so in fact, that it is now arguably part of our culture, but for many couples, seeking a divorce on equal terms under the current law can be difficult, and often causes conflict.

For years, organisations such as Resolution have recognised this is issue and have been actively advocating for no fault divorce to be implemented, and at last it is finally here. 

Many believe that by removing the necessity to attribute responsibility for the breakdown of a relationship will help to minimise conflict between parties.  Perhaps it will to a degree, although by large, the change to divorce law will not affect the great potential for conflict to arise over arrangements for children, property and money. 

The new divorce process will take at least 6 months to complete, with a minimum period of 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and the application for a Conditional Order.  Since the introduction of on-line divorce in recent years, it had been possible to finalise old style divorces in a much quicker time period and for some, this longer process will cause further discord.

Under the old procedure, notice of the issue of divorce proceedings is given to the Respondent by the Court as soon as proceedings are issued. However, under the new system, the Respondent will not necessarily be notified of the divorce straight away which might also lead to growing frustration. 

As with the old-style divorce, all new applications will be made through an electronic portal. However, for fault-based divorces, this facility closes at 4pm on the 31st March 2022 and the new divorce process will open on 6th April 2022. 

Therefore, for those needing urgent relief such as certain emergency Financial Orders, we would advise seeking legal advice at your earliest convenience, as it will still be possible to file a paper application between 1st and 5th April 2022. 

For advice on divorce and separation, financial issues and children’s arrangements, Tinsdills team of expert solicitors are on hand and can offer a variety of support and guidance to suit your needs.