This is the first significant change to the divorce laws in England and Wales for almost 40 years. It has been a long time coming.
From the 6th April 2022, a married party, whether individually or jointly, can now issue a divorce petition without having to point the finger or assign blame.
Up until now, there have been 5 factors the party issuing the divorce petition has to prove. These are either unreasonable behaviour, desertion, adultery, separation for 2 years with both party’s consent or separation for 5 years without the other party’s consent.
However, that is now going to be done away with. This is to prevent those without a specific reason, i.e. they have grown apart, from feeling they are ‘trapped’ in a marriage. The Courts could not finalise any financial agreement until the Decree Nisi (now a Conditional Order) had been pronounced. This meant that if there was a pressing need to resolve the finances, and the parties could not agree, nothing could be done until the requisite time had elapsed.
The new procedure should be quicker and promote a better relationship between the parties, which can only be a good thing, particularly if there are children of the relationship.
Neither party will be able to oppose or contest the divorce petition, and the whole process – online, should take 6 months. There is still a ‘cooling off period’ of 20 weeks once the process has started until the Conditional Order is made. As is now, there will still be 6 weeks and 1 day, between the Conditional Order and the Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute).
Should you wish to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist family solicitors on 01229 580956. Face to face, Microsoft Teams or telephone appointments can be arranged at your convenience.