As of 6 April 2022, England and Wales saw a significant change in its divorce law with the introduction of a new, no-fault divorce. The new law marks the most significant reform to this area of law in over 50 years and will allow divorce to be granted without the need for blame to be attributed to the other party, resulting in a more straightforward and less contentious divorce process.
Since 1969, separating spouses have only had one ground for divorce, namely the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This had to be established by relying on one of the following five facts:
● Unreasonable behaviour
● Two years’ separation with consent
● Five years’ separation without consent
Under the new law, the ground for divorce will remain the same but without the need to prove it through one of the five facts above. The changes also apply to civil partnership dissolution. This article will delve into a no-fault divorce and what it could mean for you.
What Is a No-Fault Divorce?
Couples will now be able to file for divorce without the need to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their relationship and can instead, legally end their marriage amicably. This helps facilitate a more constructive approach to divorce proceedings and encourages couples to agree on other matters such as child custody and financial arrangements. If you are getting divorced, a divorce assistance expert can help you calculate child support and spousal support as well as negotiate with your ex, and prepare you for court or mediation. The new law also introduces the following changes:
● The introduction of a joint application which allows couples to both apply for their divorce
● Removal of the possibility to contest a divorce
● The new law requires that a minimum period of 20 weeks is observed from the start of the divorce application to when the Conditional Order (formally known as the ‘Decree Nisi’) can be made
The 20-week waiting period is designed to promote reflection and reconciliation, where possible. It also gives the parties enough time to seek legal advice on how to proceed with their decision and explore alternative dispute resolution options, such as collaborative divorce, mediation, arbitration, hybrid mediation and adjudication.
What Is the Effect of a No-Fault Divorce?
Under a no-fault divorce, both parties will be able to part amicably by making a joint application for divorce or dissolution and without worrying whether their spouse will contest their application if they decide to file a sole application. This also means there will be no requirement to go to court, saving considerable amounts of time and money.
Making the divorce process easier may make it less emotionally taxing and costly to those involved and can help couples to focus on what matters such as their children and future living arrangements, rather than having to prove fault or contest the divorce itself.
While some may argue that a no-fault divorce supports couples in giving up and exiting their marriage too easily, this as yet remains to be seen. Others would argue that for most people, the decision to divorce is not taken lightly and the removal of proving fault should have little to no bearing on this outcome.