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This article was published on June 22nd, 2021
With no fault divorce set to become legal following the Government’s commitment to introduce the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, on 6th April 2022, couples seeking a divorce will be able to do so without having to assign blame.
At present, if you wish to divorce you have to prove the marriage has irretrievably broken down and base it on one of five facts. If a spouse wishes to divorce so soon after separation they would need to rely on the fact of unreasonable behaviour or adultery and if they cannot rely on either of these facts they would have to wait for 2 years of separation (by consent), desertion or five years separation.
No-fault divorce will stop a spouse from having to demonstrate wrongdoing or fault. It is dissolving the marriage with a statement of irretrievable breakdown with there no longer being the requirement to establish one of the facts above. One spouse can apply for a “Divorce order” or under the new legislation it does permit couples to jointly apply. It will put a stop to one spouse contesting a divorce where the other spouse wants it. There is a time period of 20 weeks from when the divorce application is filed before parties can apply for a Conditional order (decree nisi) although in exceptional circumstances this can be shortened. This is to provide a period of reflection. The marriage will end by a “Final order” after a period of six weeks from the Conditional order.
It is thought that the “no fault divorce” will reduce conflict and the difficulties that are often associated with the current process. It will enable parties to focus on the children and finances rather than how a spouse might be able to end their marriage.
Whether it is the right decision to wait or to start the process now under the current law may be best determined by seeking legal advice. There may be a number of factors to consider to help you decide the best way forward.
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