The eagerly awaited “No fault” Divorce comes into force on 6th April 2022. From this date, HM Courts & Tribunal Service will be launching a new online service to accommodate the change. The new divorce process will be entirely digital removing the need for paper applications.
With the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 and introduction of the no-fault Divorce, the divorce process in England is set to fundamentally change with the aim of reducing hostility between divorcing couples and intention to set a constructive path for communication when dealing with the financial aspects and arrangements for children during the separation period.
Previously when divorcing, a party would need to rely on one of the 5 grounds as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage however, a key change to the new divorce process includes that couples can make a joint application for divorce. If this is not possible, one party can still apply providing a legal statement that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The statement is to be taken as conclusive evidence of the breakdown of the marriage and can not be contested. A Respondent can therefore no longer oppose a divorce or the pronouncement of the Decrees on matters relating to the actual breakdown of the marriage, as fault does not have to be shown or argued. However, the Respondent may have limited circumstances in which to contest the divorce ie lack of jurisdiction or a dispute as to the validity of the marriage.
Service of the papers will be expected by email to the usual email address of the Respondent with confirmation to the Court that the papers have been sent to a postal address by first class post or other form of delivery to the Repondent’s usual address. The Respondent will need to reply to the application within 14 days. The Court will still retain the power to make Orders regarding service to ensure that the proceedings are brought to the attention of the Respondent.
The new law also lays down a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the granting of a Conditional Order, previously known as the Decree Nisi. This cooling period allows both parties time to agree practical arrangements surrounding the separation. Six weeks after the Conditional Order has been granted, the Applicant can apply for the Final Divorce Order, previously known as the Decree Absolute.
The above is a general overview and should not be contrued as legal advice. For further information or advice in relation to divorce or any family matters, please contact Dee Popat or our Family Department.
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