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Getting a divorce in England or Wales in 2022

Since 6 April 2022, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 completely changed the English & Welsh divorce process with the new concept of a ‘no fault’ divorce being introduced.

The clue is in the name in that ‘no fault’ divorce means that an individual applicant or joint applicants can now divorce without having to cite behaviour or a specific length of separation on their application. The couple only needs to have been married for at least one year before they can apply for a divorce and there is a simple requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The divorce application (Form D8) now reads ‘Has the applicant’s marriage broken down irretrievably?’ and the applicant need only select ‘yes’.

Kimberley Duah in the matrimonial team outlines the key changes and provides an overview of the new process in 2022:

‘This significant and welcome change in legislation has removed the blame game element from a marriage breakdown,’ says Kimberley, ‘Now, no allegations need to be raised against your spouse, reducing family conflict, stress and emotional pain.’

A divorce application can now only be disputed in very limited circumstances, such as in cases where there is an issue of jurisdiction or an issue as to the validity of the marriage.

Another significant change is that a couple can now choose to make a joint application, with Applicant 1 and Applicant 2. The court fee for a divorce application is still £593 for both single and joint applications. However, the applicant can apply for help with fees using form EX160 if they are on a low income. The application can be made online using the HMCTS portal or by paper on Form D8.

One of the aims behind these changes was to make divorce more accessible to the average person, with the divorce timetable being updated and legal jargon simplified as evidenced in the table below:

Simplified overview of new divorce process:

 

A chart detailing the new divorce process

As evidenced above, the introduction of no-fault divorce aims to minimise animosity between parties and the newly introduced 20-week period before applying for the Conditional Order (formerly known as the Decree Nisi) encourages parties to try to resolve any related children and/or financial matters before the divorce is finalised.

However, it should be noted that there could be significant delays to the divorce process if the service of the application is not acknowledged. If your spouse does not cooperate by returning the acknowledgment of service, it is recommended that you consult a solicitor for advice as this can be a tricky area to navigate.

The matrimonial team at Miles & Partners is here to support you and we are skilled at helping couples to reach agreement in a more constructive way, such as through mediation. Call us on 020 7426 0400.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Kim Duah, trainee solicitor at Miles & Partners

Kimberley Duah

Trainee solicitor

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English