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One month to go before introduction of no-fault divorce

On 06 April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force. Described as 'the biggest reform of divorce laws in half a century', the Ministry of Justice has released an Information Pack  setting out key information as to the amendments and new court forms to be used.

Amongst various changes, the most anticipated change is the introduction of 'no-fault divorce'. This change means:

• The requirement to provide evidence of 'conduct' or 'separation' facts is removed and replaced with a requirement to provide a 'statement of irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage or civil partnership.

• The ability to defend the decision to divorce or end the civil partnership is removed.

• For the first time, joint applications for divorce, dissolution and separation are permitted.

There are also important changes to the terms and language used in the process of divorce. The terms 'Decree Nisi' and 'Decree Absolute' will be no more, instead becoming 'Conditional Order' and 'Final Order' respectively. The 'Petitioner' will also now be known as the 'Applicant'.

The timescales for the process of divorce will also be altered. A new minimum overall timeframe of six months (26 weeks) has been introduced between the date the court first issues the application for divorce and when a final order can be made.

For the Ministry of Justice information pack, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers

03.03.2022