No fault divorce possible from April 2022

08/06/2021

The much awaited The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will finally come into force on 6 April 2022.

The new Act will allow married couples to divorce without assigning any form of blame and will hopefully make getting divorces a somewhat easier process for many.

Irreconcilable differences

We are often asked when a client wishes to proceed with a divorce “can we just put irreconcilable differences as the reason?” Unfortunately, this has not been possible, and it has resulted in a fault-based divorce system which often increases tensions and prolongs proceedings. The emotional upset and stress of a divorce will always remain, but it is hoped that reaching a mutual agreement to divorce without blaming the other will make the process more amicable and less emotionally charged.

This will hopefully result in parties trying to resolve their financial matters and matters relating to children less contentiously as their focus will be on these aspects of the divorce.

What will a no fault divorce look like?

Once this Act has come into force, the major changes for divorcing couples will be:

  • Couples do not need to use the current five reasons to get divorced and blame each other to get divorced.
  • Couples will apply for the divorce jointly.
  • A period of 20 weeks ‘reflection’ will be introduced to allow couples time to ensure this is the right move for them and balance the argument that the no fault system will make the divorce process too quick.
  • Contesting a divorce will no longer be an option. 

Delay

The Act receive Royal Assent in June 2020 and it was initially thought the changes made in the Act would come into force in 2021. However, despite the delay of some months before the implementation of this act, it can only be a positive step forward for parties who have simply grown apart and fallen out of love for no particular reason.

Our family practitioners hope that there will be no further delay and that the new no-fault divorce based system will come into effect next year. 

Comments

Nigel Shepherd, the former Chair of Resolution and advocate for No Fault Divorce over many years, said:

“Whilst any delay is disappointing, we do now have certainty over the introduction of this important reform and will be able to advise clients accordingly.

More information

To find out more about divorce, please contact our family team here.   

This article was written by Angela Sharma, Senior Associate. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2021.

08/06/2021

Authors

Angela Sharma

Senior Associate

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