The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 and No Fault Divorce
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force on 6 April 2022. This is the first change in divorce law for nearly fifty years.
The aim of the legislation is to allow couples to divorce with less rancour in the divorce process, enabling the couple to concentrate on making arrangements for their children and financial futures.
These changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
It will no longer be necessary to prove one of the five facts of: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation and consent or five years separation.
The ground for divorce will remain the same, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and a Divorce Application can still only be made if the couple have been married for a year. One spouse can only dispute (defend) the divorce on very limited grounds such as the validity of the marriage or disputing jurisdiction, so effectively a divorce can be obtained without the other spouse being able to object. A Sole Application for Divorce or a Joint Application for Divorce can be made or changed to a Sole Application by either spouse.
The terminology for divorce proceedings has changed. The Divorce Application (Petition) must be served on the spouse or their solicitors, usually by the Court by email and post within 28 days. The other spouse or their solicitors must complete an Acknowledgment of Service within 14 days to confirm receipt of the Divorce Application.
The Applicant must wait 20 weeks after making the Divorce Application before they can apply for the first of the two-part divorce order, called a Conditional Order (Decree Nisi). In the application for the Conditional Order, the Applicant must confirm that everything in the Divorce Application remains unchanged and they wish to proceed with the divorce.
Once six weeks have elapsed from the day the Conditional Order was given, the Applicant will be able to apply for the Final Divorce Order (Decree Absolute). This brings the marriage to an end.
Please note we recommend that independent legal advice is sought before applying for the Final Divorce Order as this may affect your Financial Claims.
We welcome the change in legislation to a no fault divorce so that couples can concentrate on a collaborative approach as possible to supporting their children, themselves and each other in making arrangements for the future.