Divorce on the cards, why is the 6th of April so important?


4 April 2022

By Farhad Islam

On 6 April 2022, the long awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 finally comes into force. The new Act marshals in no fault divorce, something which has been called for by the legal profession for many moons, and brings the current (outdated) law into the 21st century. What this effectively means is that the need for fault or blame is removed by the Act. Separating couples will no longer have to rely on one of the ‘five facts’ to prove the ground for divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. They can simply get divorced on the basis that the marriage has broken down.

Current Law

As alluded to above, any couple wanting to separate under the current law in the UK must rely on one of ‘ five facts’ to prove that their relationship has irretrievably broken down. The facts are as follows:

  • Adultery (not available for civil partnership dissolution);
  • Unreasonable behaviour;
  • Separation for at least 2 years with the consent of both parties;
  • Separation for at least 5 years even if one party disagrees; and
  • Desertion for at least 2 years.

The person applying for divorce must effectively fault/blame the other party for the divorce. In the event that the other party disagrees with the divorce and/or the fact relied upon by the applicant, they have the right to contest the divorce and possibly even stop it. The current law has therefore rightfully been criticised for many years for being archaic and stirring up conflict between couples unnecessarily.

New Law

The new no fault divorce law will introduce the following:

  • Remove the need to prove one of the aforementioned five facts. The only basis for divorce will be the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship.
  • Couples will be able to make a joint application, particularly where there is agreement that the relationship has irretrievably broken down (applicant can still make the application on their own if the other party does not agree).
  • Update to divorce terminology- Decree Nisi will become a Conditional Order and Decree Absolute will become a Final Order. Moreover, the Petitioner will be known as the Applicant.
  • There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between the application and Conditional Order.
  • The 6-week period between the Conditional Order and when the Final Order can be made remains the same.
  • It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce.

Should you require legal advice as to how to proceed with a divorce or a dissolution, Gepp Solicitors will endeavour to deal with matters sensitively and swiftly.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.