What Does the New Law Mean for Divorcing Couples?

At last, on 6 April 2022, long-awaited changes to UK divorce laws came into effect in the form of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, introducing no-fault divorce.

From 31 March 2022, divorcing couples have been prevented from filing for divorce under the old system in preparation for the new process coming into effect this week. The old system required a couple filing for divorce to choose one of five reasons for divorce which included several years of separation or attributing blame for the breakdown of the marriage. This often created a conflict between couples which would not necessarily have been there had they not had to apportion blame to take the next step in their divorce.

Campaigners have been calling on the government for some time to review divorce laws to reflect the need for this amicable option which has long been the case in other countries such as Scotland and Australia. This change in divorce law is the biggest change seen in 50 years.

So, What’s Changed?

Under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, there will now be a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown, in place of choosing one of the reasons for divorce and one party apportioning blame to the other. These changes also apply to the dissolution of a civil partnership.

Under the new system, both parties can also file the application for divorce whereas previously one spouse (the petitioner) would have needed to issue proceedings against the other (the respondent).

Sadly, whilst this new divorce law will provide the option of a more amicable process for those considering a divorce, it will not speed up the process. A minimum timeframe has been introduced in the form of a period of reflection, 20 weeks between the application for divorce and the conditional order (decree nisi), to counter the concerns raised that the new divorce laws would make divorce a quicker and easier option for couples who may still be able to save their marriage.

Please remember, the new system will also not affect the financial settlement process which doesn’t fall under the new law so if you are considering a divorce, it is vital to seek advice from a legal professional to understand your position and the next steps you should take.

Farleys has a team of experienced family law specialists on hand to assist divorcing couples at every step of the process. For a limited time, you can book a case management meeting for just £300 + VAT. For more information, call us today on 0845 287 0939, contact us by email, or chat to us through the online chat below.