Divorce Process & Procedure – The New Law
29 Mar 2022
In April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force, changing the divorce process and requirements for couples wishing to divorce in England and Wales. The Act also amends the process and requirements for judicial separation and dissolution of civil partnerships. Please ask us for information on those processes if you require it.
The key change brought about by the new law is the removal of the requirement to provide detailed reasons to support the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, a simple statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably is all that is required. The application for a divorce (formerly called the divorce petition) can be filed by one or both parties to the marriage as a single or joint application. Who is going to commence the process will usually be discussed and agreed prior to the process commencing.
As before the process is expected to take place without formal court attendance and is available through the court portal online or as a paper process in some circumstances. The overall process is expected to take 6 months as minimum.
As before, two main order stages are involved – a conditional order (formerly decree nisi) and final order (formerly decree absolute). The final order can be sought only once 20 weeks has passed from the time the application was made and there must be a minimum of 6 weeks between the conditional and final orders. The inbuilt delay is to enable the couple time to reflect on their decision to divorce, but also to allow time for financial and children arrangements to be made where necessary and for financial arrangements to be considered by the court with a view to having a binding order where the couple wish. At each stage there are further documents for completion which we can assist you with.
It is expected that under the new regime, applications for costs will be rare, as will defended processes owing to the changes in the basis for divorce and expectation that at least some of the time applications will be made by both parties together.
Please do ask us for more information about the new divorce process.