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Divorce Law Changes

Published: 6 April 2022

A change in the divorce laws is set to take place on 6 April 2022.  This is particularly important as it is the first major change to the process of divorce in 50 years.  The law aims to make divorce a smoother and more amicable process, and remove the need for the petitioner to blame their partner for one of the five facts.

How was it done before?

Under the current laws, when seeking a divorce, a person must blame their spouse for the irrevocable breakdown of their relationship or wait a minimum of two years.  These two years can be extended to a total of five years if your spouse does not give consent, which has led to a number of unhappy partners stuck in a relationship there is no way out of.  These law changes represent a significant step towards preventing that, and making the process of divorce as a whole much less contentious, removing the need to enter into a blame game with your partner at an already stressful time.

What is changing?

This new legislation will now introduce replacing the "five facts" with providing a statement of irretrievable breakdown and it will remove the ability for partners to contest a divorce.  For the first time, partners will be able to petition for divorce together, which will be a much more attractive option for couples who have agreed to split mutually.  We have also seen a change in the language used, with the Latin words Decree Nisi & Decree Absolute being changed to Conditional Order & Final Order of Divorce, in an attempt to make the process of divorce more accessible.

Please note no new applications will be taken from 31 March 2022 (when the old system ends) until April 2022 (when the changes are introduced).

How long will it take to get a divorce?

The law has also introduced a "cooling off period" of 20 weeks between the start of Divorce Proceedings and the Application for the Conditional Order (Decree Nisi), this gives the couple the option to reflect and possibly a chance to reconsider before making such a big decision.  After 26 weeks an Application can then be made for the Final Order (Decree Absolute).

What do we think?

We feel these changes have been long overdue, as we believe nobody should have to be in a relationship they do not want to be in. These changes will also go a long way towards removing the contentious nature of divorce and make the process more straightforward.

If you would like to find out more about these changes, or if you require advice on your situation, please contact us to arrange a free 30 minute appointment with our Family Law Department to discuss your options.    

Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of legal interest about current legal issues.