What are the changes to divorce law?
GEORGINA EARLE-HUTTON >
Partner and Senior Family SolicitorWed 6 April 2022
Finally, the Law has changed the requirement to seek to rely upon a Fact for Divorcing your Spouse in what would already be a stressful and possibly acrimonious situation has now ended. From the 6th April 2022, under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, either party to a Marriage/Civil Partnership or both parties (which is a change from the Old Law) can Petition for Divorce on the grounds of “No Fault”.
The terminology for the parties has also changed. No more petitioners and images of one pleading with the Court for a Divorce in cases of allegations of unreasonable behaviour and whether parties have really been living separately and apart in accordance with the old statue.
Under the new Law, we have Applicant and Respondent who after filing for Divorce are permitted potentially a 26-week period of Reflection.
There is no longer a Divorce Petition but an Application which can be lodged by either party separately, jointly or by a parties’ Legal Representative. Either party or both can apply for Pronouncement of a Conditional order (previously Decree Nisi) and after the total period of Reflection, again either party can apply for a Divorce Order (previously Decree Absolute).
Therefore, an application for divorce can be started by the Applicant, the Conditional Order can be applied for by the Respondent and then both parties can apply for the Divorce Order or in whatever Order the parties wish to apply for the various stages of Divorce.
The 26-week reflection period is broken down by:
- 20 weeks – from the date of issuing of the Application to the date that one can apply for a Conditional Order
- 6 weeks – from the Conditional Order until one can apply for a Divorce Order.
However, there is a potential anomaly in the time for Reflection between the parties unless the Application is joint. There is no legal requirement for the Applicant to serve the Application for Divorce on the Respondent immediately providing that it is served within 28 days of the date of issue of the Application.
Does all this mean there will no longer be any Defended Divorces as there are no facts to dispute?
The simple answer is no but such cases will be limited to other issues in dispute plus the new title is Disputed Cases as opposed to Defended Petitions.
What issues may be in dispute to warrant an Application to dispute the divorce?
These could include issues surrounding whether there should be an Annulment of the Marriage/ Civil Partnership or issues surrounding jurisdiction of the Court.
Parties are warned remarriage is a Bar to an Application for Financial Remedy. Therefore, if the Financial Claims of your Spouse and yourself are not agreed, you should not remarry once the Divorce Order has been granted before lodging and receiving a sealed Application for a Financial Remedy Order (an Application for Financial Provision for your Spouse and yourself).
Also, parties are warned to try to reach an agreement where there is a Pension and or a Potential Claim against one party’s Pension to postpone the Application for pronouncement of the Divorce Order until Financial Claims have been resolved. Failure to do so will defeat a Surviving Spouse the entitlement to make a claim against the other’s Pension in the event of their death.
Of course, an Application could be made to the Court to prevent the Pronouncement of the Divorce Order but the circumstances for an application are quite limited.
The question is are you ready for the new Divorce Law. We at Taylor Rose MW are. Georgina Earle-Hutton, Partner & Collaborative Lawyer in our Family & Children department can be contacted directly by email by clicking the ‘contact us’ button or on 020 3551 8110. To find out more about our Family & Children department, please click here.