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No Fault Divorce Ready to Be Introduced in April 2022

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The current divorce rules dictated by The Matrimonial Cause Act 1973 are soon set to change under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

For the past 49 years, divorce rules have remained the same, with the divorce petitioner needing to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage through one of five facts. Now, the guidelines are set to change from the 6th of April 2022, with the introduction of what is being referred to as ‘no fault’ divorce.

Here, we discuss the ins and outs of no fault divorce, including what no fault divorce is, why the current divorce rules under The Matrimonial Cause Act 1973 are changing, what the current divorce rules are, what the no fault divorce rules are set to be, how long no fault divorce will take and whether you should wait for no fault divorce.

For more information about ‘no fault’ divorce or to speak to one of our divorce lawyers in Newport, South Wales, please get in touch today.

What are the current divorce rules?

Under the current rules of divorce, there are five available facts to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The petitioner must choose one or more of the five facts, which will place blame on the respondent. These facts are:

  • Adultery – must be proved within six months of knowing of the adultery and cannot be used in civil partnership dissolution
  • Desertion for at least 2 years
  • Unreasonable behaviour – where you cannot be reasonably be expected to live with your spouse, examples of this can include domestic abuse, lack of sexual interaction, and countless others
  • Separation for at least 2 years – your spouse must agree to the divorce
  • Separation for at least 5 years – can be applied for without your spouse’s agreement

Why are the divorce rules changing?

No fault divorce was initially supposed to be introduced back in autumn 2021, but was pushed back to April 2022. The reason no fault divorce is being introduced by the government is to replace the current outdated divorce rules. Many professionals continue to criticise the current rules, particularly as many couples wish to divorce amicably - something the current divorce rules do not easily allow for.

What are the no fault divorce rules?

The new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill changes many aspects of the current divorce rules, including:

  • Keeping the sole ground for divorce as an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  • Removing the five facts supporting the ground for divorce
  • Removing fault or blame
  • Removing the ability to contest a divorce, dissolution or separation  
  • Petitions can be jointly submitted – allowing for an amicable divorce
  • Changing the divorce language. For example:
    • ‘Conditional Order’ will replace ‘Decree Nisi’
    • ‘Final Order’ will replace ‘Decree Absolute’
  • Introduce a minimum of 20 week period between the divorce application and the Conditional Order
  • Keep the six week period between the Conditional Order and Final Order

How long does no fault divorce take?

The time it takes to finalise a divorce will always vary, as there are a number of factors to consider. That being said, the introduction of no fault divorce should help to streamline the process.

Where previously spouses could contest a divorce, they are no longer able to do this, meaning there is potential for a complicated divorce to take significantly less time than it once might have. However, child arrangements and financial settlements are still in the picture, which could still cause considerable conflict between separating partners.

Furthermore, the new introduction of the minimum 20-week period between the divorce application and the Conditional Order, along with the six week period between the Conditional Order and Final Order, could extend the process. Despite this, for straightforward divorces, the average time will take near enough a total of six months for the divorce to be finalised.

Should you wait for no fault divorce?

Whether you choose to wait for no fault divorce depends entirely on your circumstances and whether you believe it would be more suitable to start divorce proceedings under the current rules, particularly if you and your separating spouse have decided on an amicable divorce.

If you believe your separating spouse may retaliate and choose to oppose divorce proceedings, it may be more appropriate to wait until no fault divorce is officially introduced and where they will be unable to challenge the petition.

Speak to our divorce law solicitors in Newport today

For more information about no fault divorce or to speak to one of our divorce lawyers in Newport, South Wales, get in touch today.