No Fault Divorce – D Day
This year, D Day has moved. Traditionally D Day has been seen as the first Monday in the year – the time when couples who have spent the Christmas and New Year period together when perhaps the cracks have started to show, have decided to begin the divorce process. This year though, the date may have changed for the couples who want to divorce, but perhaps more crucially want to do so without having to lay blame at one another. Welcome to the new dawn, the No Fault Divorce era.
New legislation has been enacted today which provides for a compete replacement of decades old laws on divorce. No fault divorce is aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples and as of 6 April 2022 has now come into force.
The Government has set out the rationale for the new No Fault Divorce arrangements:
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act (2020), represents the biggest shake up in divorce law for more than half a century. It ends completely the need for separating couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage, helping them to instead focus on key practical decisions involving children or their finances and look to the future.
Previously, one spouse was forced to make accusations about the other’s conduct, such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery, or face years of separation before a divorce could be granted. This was regardless of whether a couple had made a mutual decision to separate.
The changes mean that a spouse, or a couple jointly, can now apply for divorce by stating their marriage has broken down irretrievably. It removes unnecessary finger-pointing and acrimony at a time where emotions are already running high, and spares children from witnessing their parents mudslinging.
Importantly, it stops one partner from vindictively contesting a divorce and locking their spouse into an unhappy marriage. In some cases, domestic abusers can use their ability to challenge the process to further harm their victims or to trap them in the relationship. The reforms will put an end to this behaviour.
20 Weeks Minimum
The Act also introduces a new minimum timeframe of 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and when individuals may apply for a conditional order of divorce. This will offer time to reflect, and potentially turn back, or where reconciliation is not possible to agree important arrangements for the future – such as those involving children, finance and property.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
The breakdown of a marriage can be agonising for all involved, especially children. We want to reduce the acrimony couples endure and end the anguish that children suffer.
That’s why we are allowing couples to apply for divorce without having to prove fault, ending the blame game, where a marriage has broken down irretrievably, and enabling couples to move on with their lives without the bitter wrangling of an adversarial divorce process.
No Fault Divorce from 6 April 2022 – New Measures
Specifically, the measures from the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act that come into force today include:
- Replacing the current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (for the first time, couples can opt to make this a joint statement).
- Removing the possibility of disputing the decision to divorce, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, except on limited technical grounds.
- Introducing a new minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to a conditional order of divorce being made, allowing greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for the future where reconciliation is not possible and divorce is inevitable.
- Simplifying the language of divorce to make it more understandable. This includes replacing the terms ‘decree nisi’, ‘decree absolute’ and ‘petitioner’, with ‘conditional order’, ‘final order’ and ‘applicant’.
Following the implementation of the Act the government has also committed to look into further the law around financial settlements after a divorce, such as the dividing of assets or maintenance payments.
Paradigm Family Law have a team of experienced lawyers to help guide you through the process of divorce, just waiting to hear from you.
If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank, Evelyn or Paul. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on +44 (0)20 3633 2301 or email us to [email protected].