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The long awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which introduces ‘no fault’ divorces in England and Wales is upon us and will finally come into force on the 6 April 2022. The new divorce law biggest aim is to end the ‘blame game’ and reduce the impact that unhealthy allegations of blame on couples who are separating for both them, and their children.

Under the current system, open until 31 March 2022, one spouse starting proceedings needed to rely on one of the five grounds for divorce:-

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Two years separation with consent
  4. Five years separation without consent
  5. Desertion

Under the new law, separating couples will be able to start proceedings together, but this time with the above reasons removed, and simply by stating they agree that their marriage has come to an end without the need for providing lengthy allegations or evidence.

Not only are there changes to the procedure, but there are also changes to the difficult terminology used. Terms like ‘decree nisi’ which were previously used by the Court to mark the first stage of the couples divorce after the spouse had acknowledged the divorce papers, will be replaced by the term ‘conditional order.’ Along with this, the term ‘decree absolute’ which marked that the marriage has come to an end, will be replaced with the term ‘final order.’

It’s good to know that within the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 are also some timing changes. For example, there will be a minimum period of 20 weeks to wait between the application being made and the conditional order. There will also be a 6 week period between the conditional order and final order. This is to allow both spouses the ability to reflect on their decision, before making the applications at each stage. This does mean that even a ‘simple’ divorce can take up to six months under the new system, but this should not be any longer than the current system we are using.

There a few professionals who have shared their concerns with the new changes to the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, warning that simplifying the process and removing the need for allegations and blame will lead to a huge rise in divorce applications being made. Here at Hansells, we could not be prouder to shout about the changes which finally reflect peoples attitude towards marriage and the changes to modern society. Removing the ‘blame game’ will help to prevent and inflame conflict to an already awful situation for a family to go through, particularly when there are children involved.

Despite the huge change in divorce law, the financial side to a divorce will remain the same and clients are always strongly advised to seek legal advice to resolve any outstanding financial disputes.

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