The Good Divorce week has focused on issues such a ‘no fault’ divorces in the past, the new ‘no-fault’ divorce legislation came into force on 6th April 2022. This means that couples can now obtain a divorce, either solely or jointly without one party having to blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage.
Although the basis of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is still relied on in the new law, this no longer has to be supported by one of the five facts: adultery, unreasonable behavior, desertion, 2 years separation with consent or 5-year separation. Therefore, you can no longer issue divorce proceedings using the old law.
The process has been streamlined at the Court for a sleek and fluid result. It has also been designed to remove the ‘sting’ from divorcing couples, which has a positive effect for any children of the parties.
Whilst procedures remain in place, the other party does have to acknowledge the proceedings for a divorce to go through. There are tight timescales the Court imposes on the other party to respond by. If the other party chooses to not engage or co-operate with the divorce, then you still must prove to the Court that the other party is aware of the proceedings, for the divorce to progress.
Once the other party has responded to the proceedings, then the divorce is placed in a 20-week holding period at the Court. Under the new ‘no fault’ divorce law the 20-week holding period balances the rights of both parties, in the absence of showing one of the five previous “facts”, adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years separation with consent and 5 years separation. This ensures that the decision to seek a divorce is a considered one, rather than a flippant one. It also gives the parties this time to reflect and reach a financial agreement.
After the 20-week holding period has expired, the Applicant 1 or Applicants 1 and 2 (if it’s a joint application), can then apply for Conditional Order, (formerly known as Decree Nisi). The Court will consider the application carefully, and if satisfied a date is then fixed for Conditional Order to be pronounced. Once Conditional Order has been granted, Final Order (formerly known as Decree Absolute) cannot be applied for until 6 weeks after Conditional Order.
Overall, it is our experience that divorces are taking longer under the new rules, due to the 20-week holding period, however this time is often used to address the matrimonial finances, so it is not wasted time.
If you are going through a separation, or are considering leaving your partner, you can get in touch with one of our lawyers for a free, no obligation, 30-minute telephone consultation to discuss your options. Please contact any of our offices: Banbury, Bicester and Rugby.