Understanding the divorce process
Divorce can be a stressful time for both parties and so it is important to understand the divorce process and the various stages it involves.
First, check whether you can begin divorce proceedings. You can get a divorce if you live in England or Wales and your marriage has broken down permanently if you have been married for a minimum of twelve months. The marriage must be recognised under the law in the UK, including same-sex marriages and you must have an established home in England or Wales.
Different rules may apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Alternatives to divorce include a legal separation which means living apart without an end to the marriage or you may be able to annul the marriage.
To avoid the costs of court hearings to deal with child arrangements, maintenance payments and shared property or money, parties will need to reach an agreement on these matters as well as the reasons for ending the marriage. A mediation process will help with coming to an agreement on these issues.
Changes to divorce law now No Fault Divorce
On the 6th April 2022 The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reforms the legal requirements and process for divorce. The act aims to reduce the potential for conflict amongst divorcing couples by:
- removing the ability to make allegations about the conduct of a spouse
- allowing couples to end their marriage jointly
The act also introduces a minimum period of 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and application for conditional order (formerly known as the decree nisi). This provides couples with a meaningful period of reflection and the chance to reconsider. After this period of time the final order (formerly the decree absolute) can be applied for to conclude the divorce. Where divorce is inevitable, it enables couples to cooperate and plan for the future.
It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce, except on limited grounds including jurisdiction.