No Fault Divorce, Dissolution and Separation: What to expect

On Wednesday 6th April 2022 the biggest changes to divorce law for half a century will be introduced, transforming the way in which separating couples can obtain a divorce or dissolution for the better.

Parties to a divorce or dissolution will no longer need to rely upon specified ‘facts’ to show that their relationship has irretrievably broken down, removing the need to allocate any blame to other party by alleging adultery or unreasonable behaviour, or wait a defined period of two or five years in order to legally separate.

The change in legislation aims to reduce hostility between couples, as well as removing the ability for one party to obstruct the divorce by refusing to respond to the divorce or contesting the proceedings. This is a welcome change, particularly in instances where the resisting spouse refuses to progress the divorce as a last-ditch effort to control their spouse, rather than a want to stay married.

Under the new law, the only way in which a divorce or dissolution can be contested is if there are any jurisdiction or procedural issues, which will save parties the considerable time, costs and stress that is incurred in attending court.

Both the procedure and the language for a divorce and a dissolution of a civil partnership will be made more cohesive, with the legal jargon being updated through the replacement of Decree Nisi with ‘Conditional Order’ and Decree Absolute with ‘Final Order’, bringing the divorce process into the 21st Century.


Deadlines for applications before the new laws come into force.

If you have already started an application for divorce or dissolution using the current digital service but have yet to submit your application and want the current divorce law to apply, you must submit your application by 4pm on Thursday 31st March 2022.

If you are applying on paper and want the current divorce law to apply, you must ensure that the court receives your application by 4pm on Thursday 31st March 2022 and therefore paper application should be posted in good time ahead of this date.

Any applications submitted after the deadline may not be accepted by the court and proceedings will need to be brought under the new process once laws come into force on Wednesday 6th April.

After this deadline the court will only accept urgent applications for divorce or dissolution if they are received by post or email, before 4pm on Tuesday 5th April 2022.


New applications

If you haven’t started your divorce or dissolution application yet you should consider whether to delay your application until the new services are available from Wednesday 6th April 2022.

The time in the intervening period can be utilised in deciding whether the apply for the divorce or dissolution on a sole or joint basis as well as starting the discussions in respect of the separate arrangements to include:

  • Dividing the finances;
  • Decide the arrangements for children; and
  • Agree on an ongoing parenting plan

If you are contemplating divorce, dissolution or separation proceedings please contact Amy Hadley on 01702 352511.

Author: Amy Hadley