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No-Fault Divorce from 6 April 2022 – A landmark change

Jan 31, 2022

What is happening on 6 April 2022

The family procedure Amendment rules of 2022 will give procedural effect to the divorce, dissolution and separation act of 2020. On 6 April 2022 a person in a marriage or a civil partnership will be able to divorce without needing to blame their spouse or civil partner for the breakdown of the marriage/civil partnership. These changes have been long coming and many say have been long overdue.

What is changing

There will no longer be a requirement by the person wanting to divorce to allege that their spouse was unreasonable, had committed adultery or to rely on period of separation.

The spouse facing a divorce will no longer be able to defend their spouse’s decision to divorce or end their civil partnership (although they will be able to dispute the application on the grounds of jurisdiction or if they dispute the validity of the marriage or if they believe that the marriage has already ended)

Couples will now be able jointly apply for a divorce, dissolution of their marriage or a separation.

Their will now be a new minimum overall timeframe of 26 weeks/ 6 months and a new 20 week period between the start of the proceedings and when the application may apply for a conditional order.

The court will also now allow service of the application by email in the first instance

There will be a new digital service and indeed the existing portal is being closed as at 31.03.22.

In reality

There has been a permissive route in place for many years. It is already possible to issue divorce petitions without describing fault but only if a couple have been living separately for over 2 years and either the other party consents. The problem of needing consent however can lead to a suspicion of bargaining.

Not everyone will be happy

Although this clearly will not delight those friends of mine with deeply held religious beliefs it will make it a lot easier for those who need/want to divorce to do so without needing to dredge up any examples of unreasonable behaviour. Those friends may say it is too easy to end a marriage. Over my many years of experience I cannot recall anyone who has made contact with me on a whim.

If you are in a position where you are considering the future of your relationship then please by all means get in touch as we can give you advice on the options which may be available to you if your marriage really is at an end. We can point you in the right direction of other organisations should you need another form of support service such as marriage counselling mediation.

How can we help?

If you are in a position where you are considering the future of your relationship then please by all means get in touch as we can give you advice on the options which may be available to you if your marriage really is at an end. We can point you in the right direction of other organisations should you need another form of support service such as marriage counselling mediation.

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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter. 

Aaron O’Malley

Aaron O’Malley

Senior Solicitor, Family Law

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