When will no-fault divorce begin in UK

The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will change the law relating to divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships from 6 April 2022.

The current divorce law

The law provides that there is one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In establishing this, you must rely on one of five facts:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion for a continuous period of two years
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation

This means that currently if you have not been separated for two years, and in the absence of adultery, you have no choice but to petition for divorce based on your spouse’s unreasonable behaviour.

How will no-fault divorce work?

The introduction of no-fault divorce will remove the requirement to provide evidence of unreasonable behaviour or separation. From 6 April 2022, it will be possible to apply for a divorce by providing a simple statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership.

Some of the other changes include the following:

  • It will no longer be possible to defend a divorce, save in circumstances where there is a dispute in respect of jurisdiction or the validity of a marriage or civil partnership.
  • The language relating to divorce proceedings will be updated. Petition will become Application, Petitioner will become Applicant, Decree Nisi will become Conditional Order, and Decree Absolute will become Final Order.
  • Joint applications will be allowed for the first time which means that couples will be able to apply together for a divorce or a dissolution of a civil partnership.
  • The changes will introduce a new timeframe of six months. This will be made up of a minimum period of 20 weeks from the application being issued until the conditional order can be applied for and a further six week period from the conditional order and when the order can be made final.

No Fault Divorce

Why is no-fault divorce better?

It is anticipated that no-fault divorce will help to reduce conflict and allow couples to focus on important matters, such as sorting out the arrangements for the children or finances.

It is hoped that the new law will allow separating couples to work together collaboratively and amicably to resolve issues that arise on separation.

How long do you have to be separated to get a no-fault divorce?

To apply for a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, you must have been married for at least one year. You can apply for a divorce in England and Wales if either you or your spouse or civil partner meet certain resident conditions or are domiciled here.

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