On 6 April 2022 we enter a brave new world in divorce when the new regime for ending your marriage or civil partnership will come into effect. This will allow couples and civil partners to divorce without having to blame each other, as has been the tradition. Cheltenham solicitor Andrew Morris looks at the change ahead.
Until now one party has had to blame the other for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. That is usually based on adultery, behaviour or desertion. Alternatively, you would have to wait two years before divorcing by agreement and five years without agreement. The fact that one party had to be blamed by the other for the breakdown of the marriage, regardless of the situation, has often meant that any divorce process started with the parties automatically being pitched against each other. The new regime does away with all of that.
From 6 April 2022 the new regime will be much simpler and more amicable. The key points are as follows:-
- Jointly or solely, you can apply to end your marriage via a statement confirming the marriage is beyond repair (Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown). That is the only requirement for an individual to be granted a divorce. This removes the need to evidence any fault. It also means that it will no longer be possible to contest the divorce as the breakdown will be determinative regardless.
- Decree nisi will instead be referred to as a conditional decree and the decree absolute will now be a final decree.
- There is a minimum timeframe of 26 weeks for completion of the divorce process. The conditional decree is granted 20 weeks after the application with the final decree happening six weeks after that.
The simpler process will make it much easier for people to apply and it is expected that most people will be able to apply themselves using the online system.
However, the no-fault divorce regime will only bring the marriage to an end. It will not resolve financial issues between the parties. They will remain open and you will still need to ensure any financial claims are resolved by way of a financial consent order. This is often the most complex and contentious issue, on which people should still seek advice from a solicitor on what the appropriate division of assets should be.
While the process of getting divorced should now be much simpler and easy to follow, it is still important to get advice on how your finances are resolved or any child arrangements to ensure that both parties can move forward on a positive footing.