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Divorce and Relationship Breakdown

The no-fault divorce concept has become law on 6th April 2022

This brings with it long-awaited reforms which aim to reduce conflict and allow couples to focus on their children, property and finances when seeking a divorce, civil partnership dissolution or legal separation.

Previously, when seeking to commence divorce proceedings, unless relying upon a prolonged period of separation there must have been an assignment of blame. You had to prove one of ‘five facts’ to establish irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – unreasonable behaviour, adultery, 2 years’ separation with consent, 5 years’ separation, or desertion.

These ‘facts’ rarely fitted into the actual reasons for the breakdown and left many couples feeling resentful. This then impacted on communication throughout the process.

What's changed:

• It is no longer necessary to rely on one of the ‘five facts’ to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

• The possibility of contesting the divorce has been removed. This means a statement of irretrievable breakdown cannot be challenged or dismissed.

• There is now be an option to make a joint application for divorce, should you wish to do so. This can reduce animosity and acknowledge a couples’ joint decision.

• The language used in divorce proceedings will now be in plain English. Decree Nisi (confirmation that you are entitled to a divorce) will now be known as a Conditional Order and Decree Absolute will be known as the Final Order.

• The new time period from submitting a statement of irretrievable breakdown will be 20 weeks. This allows the parties time to agree practical points surrounding the separation, such as child arrangements and finances. Once 20 weeks has elapsed a Conditional Order (previously Decree Nisi) can be applied for.

• From the date of the Conditional Order there is an additional 6 week period before a Final Order can be applied for. This will then dissolve the marriage or civil partnership. 

If you would like advice about separation, divorce or financial settlements, we are here to help. Contact a member of our highly experienced, friendly Family Law team to arrange your free initial consultation and together we can help you begin to move forward and look to the future.

Divorce and Relationship Breakdown – There is no such thing as Common Law Marriage.

The law relating to married people who wish to Divorce and unmarried but co-habiting people who wish to separate is entirely different. Our highly qualified legal team have many years of experience and possess the commitment and determination needed to deal with difficult and unreasonable circumstances.

Difficulties tend to lie in resolving the practical issues, such as how to separate, where to live, arrangements for the children and any money matters. The mechanics of achieving a settlement for a relationship breakdown is reasonably straightforward, particularly for couples who are able to continue to communicate and discuss matters together in a sensible fashion

There is a great legal difference in resolving financial matters between married and unmarried couples and much more information can be found on our ‘Financial’ page.