April 2022 will see a significant change to the law on divorce in England and Wales for 50 years. It is an exciting time for family solicitors as the new law will radically change the way we deal with divorces. The reform as outlined in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will mean that it will no longer be necessary for one party to lay blame on the other to get a divorce.

Why have these changes been brought in?

Many campaigners have been pushing for a change to the law for many years as it was considered to be out of date particularly following the case of Owens v Owens in 2018 when Mrs Owen was refused a divorce on the fact of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour because the court took the view that the examples of Mr Owens behaviour were not sufficient to satisfy the test for unreasonable behaviour. This meant that despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Owens had not lived together for three years Mrs Owens had to remain married to her husband until the five year separation fact had been satisfied.

The effect of the new legislation will be to remove the conflict and acrimony often experienced by divorcing couples and, instead, enable them to focus on more important issues such as resolving any disputes regarding children, property and finances.

What will the new legislation do?

The new ‘no fault’ legislation will:

– Replace the ‘five facts’ (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 year separation with consent and 5 year separation) with a new requirement to provide only a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

– Remove the possibility of contesting the divorce.

– Introduce an option for a joint application.

– Make sure language is in plain English, for example, changing the term ‘decree nisi’ to ‘conditional order’ and the term ‘decree absolute’ to ‘final order’.

How long does will a ‘no fault’ divorce take?

The government is introducing a new minimum period of 20-weeks between the start of proceedings and applying for a conditional order of divorce or dissolution. Together with the existing minimum six-week period between conditional order and final order of divorce this will mean that a divorce for most people in the future will take a minimum of 26-weeks or six months, with additional time for the conditional order application to be considered and pronounced. If the couple needs more time to complete their divorce, then the law will allow for this.

What about our finances?

It is important to note that it can take time for divorce proceedings to get started and you will need this to have begun to be able to start the process of obtaining a court order to sort out your finances. The no fault divorce process will not end a couple’s financial commitments to each other and so it is important that financial matters are addressed at the same time as the divorce. If this is left unresolved, one party could make a claim against the other in the future even if they are divorced.

Contact our Family Team at Vyman

Our family team are experienced solicitors who have been providing specialist advice in this area to a diverse range of clients for many years. Whatever your circumstances, speak to one of our trusted practitioner’s today to discuss your case.

For a brief informal chat or to arrange an initial appointment, call us today on 0208 427 9080 or complete our online enquiry form and we’ll be in touch.