CHANGES TO DIVORCE LAWS IN ENGLAND AND WALES
In April 2022, there will be changes to the divorce laws in England and Wales, with the introduction of a “no fault” system.
Under current rules, where the parties have not been separated for up to 2 years, one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other in order to pursue a divorce. The new law will introduce a ‘no fault’ system, whereby a spouse only needs to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
This is the most significant overhaul to the divorce laws since the Divorce Reform Act was introduced in 1969.
The hope is that the new law will make the divorce process less acrimonious by replacing the ‘fault-based’ divorce system, which often creates animosity between the two parties and can have a particularly harmful effect when children are involved.
The new rules will include a minimum timeframe of six months from petition stage to decree absolute – the legal document that ends a marriage.
Under the new law, the requirement to provide evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour will be replaced with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. One spouse can apply for a divorce, or both spouses can make a joint application. The new system removes the ability of the respondent to contest the divorce. The new law introduces a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute).
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