In a move which will benefit many Britons and their children, new landmark divorce reforms were introduced in the UK on 6th April 2022. Aimed at reducing conflict between separating couples, the reforms have introduced the no-fault divorce to remove unnecessary conflict and to ease stress on couples and children.
As part of a wider action to improve the family justice system, the new Act has introduced a new minimum wait of 20 weeks between application and conditional order of divorce. This will offer time to reflect, and potentially turn back, or where reconciliation is not possible to agree important arrangements for the future.
We also see the simplification of the language of divorce to make it more understandable. This includes replacing the terms ‘decree nisi’, ‘decree absolute’ and ‘petitioner’, with ‘conditional order’, ‘final order’ and ‘applicant’.
Following the implementation of the Act the government has also committed to look into further the law around financial settlements after a divorce, such as the dividing of assets or maintenance payments.
The no-fault divorce is the biggest shake up in UK divorce law for more than 50 years, and ends completely the need for separating couples to apportion blame for the breakdown of their marriage, helping them to instead focus on key practical decisions involving children or their finances and look to the future.
Prior to this, one spouse was forced to make accusations about the other’s conduct, such as adultery or ‘unreasonable behaviour’, or face years of separation before a divorce could be granted, regardless of whether the couple had made a mutual decision to separate.
A spouse, or a couple jointly, can now apply for divorce by stating their marriage has broken down irretrievably. It removes unnecessary finger-pointing and ill feeling at a time where emotions are already running high, and spares children from witnessing their parents mudslinging.
Importantly, it stops one partner from vengefully contesting a divorce and keeping their spouse in an unhappy marriage. In some cases, domestic abusers can use their ability to challenge the process to further harm their victims or to trap them in the relationship. The reforms will put an end to this behaviour.
On this website, we have written various posts about divorce that you may find of interest. Please click on this link – Divorce posts.