New Divorce Laws from 6th April 2022
The Government has announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force this year, on 6th April 2022, after receiving Royal Assent back in June 2020. The purpose of this Act is to allow for married couples and civil partners to divorce without assigning blame.
The current divorce law in England and Wales
Presently, couples who wish to divorce in England and Wales must meet certain criteria: they must have been separated for a period of at least 2 years with consent (or 5 years without consent), or one must cite either adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour for the marriage breakdown. The divorce procedure due to be introduced in the spring aims to modernise the current system and minimise hostility between spouses whilst enabling divorce without apportioning blame.
What changes with the new Act?
The implementation of the new Act will bring a number of changes. The term “No-Fault Divorce” will be introduced to replace the five currently listed options on legal documents as appropriate reasons for divorce, such as adultery, behaviour, desertion, two years separation and five years separation.
The terminology in use will be modernised and simplified. For example, a “Decree Nisi” will be termed a “Conditional Order’ and a “Decree Absolute” will simply be called a ‘Final Order’.
As part of the new process, the law will also impose a minimum 20 week period between the divorce application and the granting of the Conditional Order. This time, also known as the “period of reflection” will provide the parties with sufficient time to contemplate their decision, which may result in reconciliation in some cases.
Furthermore, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will remove the possibility of a decision to divorce being contested. The statement of irretrievable breakdown will be taken as determinative of such.