Five ways getting a divorce is changing as thousands more apply due to new law

A new no-fault divorce law has been introduced to England and Wales, triggering 3,000 separation applications – which is a surge of 50 per cent

New changes in divorce laws have been introduced

Five major rule changes on divorce have been unveiled as a new law sees thousands more applying.

A new drama called The Split has shown a mess-free divorce is not always possible.

It follows the Defoe family, who work in divorce law, and tells of the unnecessary distress and complications when couples want to break up.

A new no-fault divorce law, however, has been introduced to England and Wales, triggering 3,000 separation applications which is a surge of 50 per cent.

Legal experts aren’t surprised at the increase in applications because it should now be easier for couples to agree on finances, assets, and the future of their children, according to the BPP University Law School .

Birmingham Live has revealed the changes which will affect those in marriages seeking to divorce.

The new divorce laws mean one person does not have to blame another


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Five major rule changes with the new divorce law

The introduction of no-fault divorce this month (April) has been the most significant change to divorce law since 1969.

The law means that couples can get divorced without one person needing to lay blame on the other. This change also applies to civil partnership dissolution.

It is also no longer possible to contest a divorce or civil partnership dissolution – unless it’s on the basis of jurisdiction. In divorce legislation, jurisdiction is the country in which legal proceedings relating to your divorce, financial matters and children arrangements will be dealt with.

Law firms say applications for divorces have massively increased


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If your marriage has an international element to it, the issue of jurisdiction will come up in the event you divorce, the law firm Mills & Reeve explained.

Here is a breakdown of the divorce law reforms:

1. Divorce can be granted without one person blaming another

The removal of fault or blame from the divorce process is the most important element of no-fault divorce. Couples can get divorced solely on the basis that the marriage has broken down, without needing to cite one of the 5 reasons that were previously required.

Couples can now apply for divorce jointly


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2. It is no longer possible to contest a divorce

One of the most significant changes to come out of the law reform is that now a divorce or civil partnership dissolution can only be contested on the basis of jurisdiction. Under the old system, one person would submit a divorce petition citing their spouse’s behavior or a period of separation as the reason for the divorce, and their spouse could contest this.

3. Couples can apply for divorce jointly

Under the old divorce laws, just one person needed to issue divorce proceedings against the other, being called the petitioner. However, under the new no-fault divorce system, the application can either be made by one person (called the applicant) or both people can make the application jointly.

4. A 26-week minimum timeframe between the application and final order

There is a minimum timeframe for divorce proceedings


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A minimum timeframe of 20 weeks has been introduced between the application being submitted and the final order being applied for.

This minimum timeframe of 20 weeks also applies between the application being issued and the conditional order being applied for.

Then, a further six week and one day period must then pass between the condition order and the application for the final order.

This timeframe has been introduced to counter concerns that the reforms would make divorce a quicker and easier option for couples than trying to save their relationship.

The terminology surrounding divorce has been updated


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5. Divorce terminology has been updated

The person applying for the divorce is now called the applicant, instead of the petitioner. While the decree nisi is now called the conditional order and the decree absolute is now called the final order.

BPP University Law School said: “For couples who are wanting to make a clean break without the drama and mess a divorce can cause, this new law provides a humane exit route. Highlighting the unnecessary distress and delay caused by the old blame-based system one partner, or both acting together, can now file for divorce, without having to give a reason or apportion blame.

One in five British adults admit to having had an affair, however ending ‘the blame game’ will help people rebuild their lives and protect children.

One of the biggest hurdles in the process is the involvement of children and money. However, judges will now step in to resolve disputes over children, maintenance or the just division of wealth.

“Divorce can also be a lengthy process- and one which many couples will want over and done with. Usually, there is a 20-week period between when proceedings begin and applying for a conditional order- along with a further six-week period before a divorce is granted.

“A survey back in 2019 found that almost a quarter of people think divorce will be made cheaper by the move, with almost one in five believing it will lead to an increase in the number of divorces- which we have already seen happening.

“Hopefully, no-fault divorce will set a less bitter tone and the culture, allowing couples and lawyers to focus more on resolving financial and children matters – the things that matter the most.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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