Family Law

New “no-fault” divorce laws will take effect on April 6, 2022

couple receiving psychological

From April 6, 2022, a new online service for filing for divorce will be available. Couples must submit an application under the current law by March 31, 2022, or wait for the changes to take effect.

Changes to divorce legislation will take effect on April 6th of this year. To accommodate this change, the UK government will be launching a new online service. The old service will be unavailable starting March 31, 2022.

Changes in the Divorce Law 

The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 reforms the divorce process and legal requirements. It allows couples to divorce without having to prove a ground for divorce. The new Act also covers the dissolution of civil partnerships.

The act aims to reduce the likelihood of conflict between divorcing couples by requiring divorcing couples to:

  • remove the ability to make allegations about a spouse’s behaviour
  • allow couples to divorce together

Between the filing of a Divorce Order and the issuance of a Conditional Order, a minimum of 20 weeks will pass. The long time between the Divorce Order and the Conditional Order allows the couple to reconsider their situation before taking an irreversible step, ensuring that the divorce decision is not impulsive and that the couple truly wants to end their marriage or civil partnership.

Except for jurisdiction, it will no longer be possible to contest a divorce.

The new Act is the most significant change to divorce law in 50 years. Couples seeking divorce will no longer be required to cite grounds such as desertion or adultery as of April, obviating the need for supporting evidence of the alleged ground. It is hoped that no-fault divorce will reduce the antagonism created when the unreasonable behaviour that caused the marriage’s disintegration was exposed in public. The new Act also covers the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Nonetheless, there will be no changes to the way financial issues surrounding divorce are handled. 

Likewise, issues involving children from the marriage will be handled the same as they are now. 

The family law team at Royce Legal strongly advises that these issues be decided with the help and advice of a family lawyer. 

The court expects a couple to reach a reasonable agreement between themselves, especially when it comes to the absent parent’s access to a child or children of the marriage, as well as the child’s residence. When making these arrangements, divorcing parents must keep their children’s best interests in mind and make every effort to minimise the disruption to the child or children.

What if I have already started my divorce application?

If you have already filed for divorce and want to proceed with an application saved on the current digital service, you must log in to your account and submit your application by 4 pm on March 31, 2022.

If you’ve begun filling out a paper application form, you must submit it to the court by 4 pm on March 31, 2022. If you’re sending it by mail, make sure it arrives by the deadline.

Alternatively, you can wait for the launch of the new digital service. If you still want to file for divorce, you can begin the process again on April 6, 2022.

If you haven’t started your application yet, please do so now.

Putting together the right documents for your application is time-consuming. So, if you haven’t started an application yet, you might want to wait until April 6, 2022, when the new services will be available.

Additionally, applications for Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute that have been issued will be saved and available on the service.

Dates to Remember

Whether you’re a lawyer or going through the divorce process yourself, keep these things in mind:

  • From March 31 to April 5, 2022, you will no longer be able to apply using the current paper or digital systems or access a saved digital application that has yet to be issued by the court. 
  • From April 6, 2022, the digital service will no longer accept new applications; new paper and digital services will be available.

Urgent applications sent before the aforementioned deadlines (but before the 6th of April) will be accepted and issued. granted they are received by post or email before 4 pm on 5th April.

Royce Legal Solicitors is a family law firm with a reputation for sensitively guiding and advising our clients with practical legal advice, resulting in the best possible outcome in difficult circumstances.

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