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No-fault divorce, now an Act of Parliament

On 25 June 2020, The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received Royal assent and became an Act of Parliament. The new law, which is expected to come into effect in Autumn 2021, will promote “no-fault divorce” by removing the requirement to assign blame in divorce petitions (please read more about this here: Divorcing on the basis of unreasonable behaviour). After years of campaigning, the change is monumental and a step in the right direction for family law practitioners.

The changes to filing for a divorce petition will be as follows:

  1. The requirement to establish one of the five facts for divorce will be dispensed with. Instead, one party, or indeed the couple, can make a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
  2. It will no longer be possible for one party to dispute the divorce (unless their objection is based on legal validity, jurisdiction, fraud, coercion or procedure) because a statement of irretrievable breakdown will be sufficient in demonstrating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down;
  3. Couples will be able to make a joint application for divorce;
  4. A new minimum time period of 20 weeks from the date of the petition to the date of the Conditional Divorce Order (previously known as Decree Nisi) will be introduced. There will then be a further 6 weeks before individuals can apply for a Final Divorce Order (previously Decree Absolute). This change allows couples to have more time to agree on financial and practical arrangements.

Should you wait until the new laws are introduced before you file for divorce?

Whilst it is hoped that no-fault divorces will come into place in Autumn 2021, this is not guaranteed. In any event, it may not be possible or realistic for some people to wait that long to file for divorce and, for many, ending the marriage in legal terms helps them to move on and rebuild their lives. Seeking the advice of a solicitor can be helpful in terms of weighing up the pros and cons of each option and discussing the best course of action which is, of course, dependant on the circumstances of the case.

Applying for a divorce

At Freedman Green Dhokia, we understand that much of the law relating to divorce is outdated and so we welcome any change which is in line with the modern world we live in today.

Our lawyers are committed in advising couples throughout the divorce process in a sensitive and time and cost-efficient manner.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, or need advice about a divorce or civil partnership dissolution, please do not hesitate to contact our Family Department on 0207 625 6003 or Priya Dhokia by email at p.dhokia@fgdlaw.co.uk.