On 6th April 2022, divorce laws changed for the first time in 50 years in England and Wales with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. This law changes the process of divorce as well as the legal requirements associated with it.
So, what does this mean for you? This article explains all you need to know to understand the positive and simplified changes made to divorce procedures.
This new change to the divorce laws in England and Wales is a welcome change by many in the legal profession. Divorce law has previously required couples to find blame one another to apply for divorce. This requirement increases the emotional stress of divorce on the couple, and any children involved.
The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reduces the possibility of conflict for divorcing couples. The new divorce law introduces no-fault divorce, replacing a part fault and non-fault divorce.
Here is a summary of the main changes created by the reform to divorce law.
Before the new changes to divorce law came into effect, when couples wanted to apply for divorce, they had to apply individually. Now that they can apply jointly, it encourages amicability in the split.
The new changes to divorce law mean that to apply for divorce, couples no longer need to demonstrate that their marriage is breaking down; allegations don't need to be made about either spouse allowing the process to be more amicable.
Instead, one spouse simply needs to state that the marriage has broken down, citing the reason as an “irretrievable breakdown”.
The new legislation only allows divorce to be contested if the validity of the marriage is the reason for divorce. The other spouse cannot contest the statement that the marriage has broken down.
The length of the period between starting divorce proceedings and the cooling down period is now a minimum of 20 weeks. The time between the cooling down period and the final order is a further six weeks. Therefore, the entire divorce process will take a minimum of six months instead of between three to four months.
The lengthening of these periods allows couples time to reflect and, therefore, reconsider if divorce is the best action to take. If divorce is the best option, they have time to work amicably together and make further plans regarding the divorce.
The new changes mean that you no longer need to bother with a paper application when you apply for a divorce. Instead, you can apply entirely through a digital process, avoiding postal delays.
Divorce law has traditionally been full of legal jargon, which can be difficult to understand. This is now replaced with a simplified language. ‘Decree Nisi’ is now ‘Conditional Order’, and ‘Decree Absolute’ is now ‘Final Order’, making divorce more accessible.
Owen White and Catlin has extensive experience in dealing with the sensitive area of family law. We ensure that we keep your costs to the minimum whilst taking a positive approach towards your case to reduce any difficult emotions you may encounter.
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