In June 2020, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 passed through parliament which brought in a new era of Divorce; the first change in 50 years. Gone are the 5 facts of which you were previously able to rely on to prove irretrievable breakdown; in their place, the concept of ‘No Fault Divorce.’
Before this new legislation, the Petitioner would have had to prove a wrongdoing of the Respondent, such as Unreasonable behaviour or Adultery. Applications using the old ‘5 fact’ legislation were ceased on 31 March 2022, with the court accepting no further Divorce Applications until they launched the ‘No-Fault’ system on 6 April 2022.
This reform came about due to Courts and Solicitors alike became increasing concerned as to how damaging and unjust the divorce process had become. The object of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 is to remove the blame culture of one party in the Divorce process and to allow the parties to Divorce without giving a reason, leading to more amicable separations that are financially beneficial and beneficial for child-parent relationships.
The new legislation will come into force from 6 April 2022. The legislation will:
- Replace the ‘five facts’ with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. Removing the parties blaming each other or having to wait 2 or 5 years if wanting to amicably separate.
- Remove the possibility of contesting the divorce, this is beneficial to survivors of domestic abuse as abusers will no longer be able to contest a divorce to control and trap their Spouse.
- Introduce an option for a joint application, please note the parties will still need separate legal representation when it comes to matters such as Child Arrangements and Financial Arrangements.
- Remove legal terminology such as ‘decree nisi’ and ‘decree absolute’ for words such as conditional order and final order respectively. This makes the whole process more accessible and easier to understand.
To file for a ‘No Fault Divorce’, there are three options. One can file their application themselves on the government portal which can be found here, a Solicitor can be used to file the application for you, or an online divorce service can be used. Whichever method is chosen, all applications will now have to be completed online through the portal. The Courts are no longer accepting paper Divorce Petitions.
The new divorce process has a minimum wait of 20 weeks between Application and Conditional Divorce and a further 6 weeks to the Final Divorce Order. The new legislation only covers the Divorce itself and does not cover child arrangement or Financial Applications.
The fees for a ‘No-Fault Divorce’ are the same as the old ‘Fault Based’ system; £593.00. This has been criticised by the Law Society as the new system is completely virtual and submitted via an online application portal. This means that the Courts have cut administration cost considerably yet retaining their high fee and potential barring a lower economic bracket from accessing a divorce. The Law Society have also suggested the reintroduce of legal aid for early advice to support divorcing couples – so watch this space! After 50 years of no change, the legislative area of Law could be due further reforms.
The changes discussed above will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.
We understand that Divorce can be an emotional and difficult time, which may feel especially overwhelming when trying to understand a whole new system of working. Meadows Ryan have been helping people through their legal matters for 82 years and are experts on all aspects of Family Law.
Christian Abletshauser is a Partner and head of the family team at Meadows Ryan and can help answer any further question you may have regarding divorce. Christian and the Family team are also highly experienced in other relationship and family matters such as Pre and Post Nuptial Agreements, Cohabitation and unmarried couples, Ancillary Relief, Separation, Domestic Violence and Harassment. To contact the family team for advice, you can either call Meadows Ryan on 01932 852 057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org