- Aishaa Saddique
‘No fault divorce’ was introduced when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 was amended on 6th April 2022.
Essentially no fault divorce allows couples to end their marriage or civil relationship without the need of blame being imposed on either party for the breakdown of the relationship.
Grounds for No fault divorce
Under the previous law, there were five grounds of divorce. Parties would have to choose one of these grounds to divorce their partner. These five grounds are listed below:
2 years separation with consent
5 years separation
The problem with the old divorce system
The problem with the old system was the requirement of blame if a party did not wish to wait for a period of 2 years before filing for a divorce. Under the old system if the Applicant accused the Respondent of unreasonable behaviour that led to the breakdown of the marriage. The Respondent would have the opportunity to disagree and contest this; which would ultimately delay the process of completing the divorce.
Should a party not wish to proceed by way of blame, then the other alternative option would be via the 2 years separation ground; however this presented an obstacle as the other party had to consent to this.
What is new from the ‘no fault divorce’?
The no fault divorce system simplifies the process of divorce as no blame is required. One party is required to produce a statement that states that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
Additionally, it removes the option to contest the divorce which would have ultimately caused a delay within the proceedings and allows for a more accommodating approach.
The scope for one party to defend the proceedings has been limited to issues of jurisdiction or the validity of the marriage to reduce the number of contested divorce applications, an issue recently highlighted by the case of Owens -v- Owens  UKSC 41 in which the husband contested the wife’s petition on the basis that he did not view the marriage to have irretrievably broken down.
Parties are to provide a statement which will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down.
The new system allows for parties to apply as sole applicant’s or joint applicant’s. Should a sole application be made then the parties will be known as the ‘Applicant’ and the ‘Respondent’ whereas if a joint application was made then the parties would be known as ‘Applicant 1’ and ‘Applicant 2’.
The service of the divorce application has also been simplified under the new system. The new legislation’s default is for the court to serve the application using the Respondent’s email address, to help minimalize any issues relating to service such as when the Respondent’s postal address cannot be found or the Respondent attempts to evade service; this will therefore prevent unnecessary additional costs.
What is the major change with ‘no fault divorce’?
The major change is the timeframe. The new system allows a 20-week reflection period, which increases the overall time it takes to get divorced 26 weeks (6 months).
This means that 20 weeks must pass from the date when the application has been filed with the Court before the parties can apply for a conditional order. This reflection period is to help encourage individuals to reflect and work through their problems before committing to a divorce. There is then a 6 week period from the conditional order before a final order may be applied for, which then finalises the divorce.
NIDO Legal advises clients to get in touch as swiftly as possible if they are seeking help with their divorce matter as it may not just be the case of your divorce, you could have property matters and children’s care that you need to consider as well as the fact that you may actually want to challenge the divorce.
Thus, we take it in our stride to ensure measures are put in place to try and prevent any such problems from arising.
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For expert legal advice on all divorce matters – contact NIDO Legal Ltd on 0333 300 3497.