The laws relating to divorce are changing from the 6 April 2022. From that date it will no longer be necessary to blame your husband or wife for the breakdown of your marriage or civil partnership.
How is the law changing?
When submitting a divorce application to the court it will be enough to just say that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. The new law will also allow both of you to apply to the court together for your divorce if that is your preference.
Will my husband or wife be able to defend my divorce application?
The short answer is no. There are only very limited circumstances in which a divorce application can be defended. These circumstances would not apply to most cases.
To dispute a divorce application the person disputing would have to show that there is no valid marriage or that the courts in England and Wales do not have the authority to grant a divorce. A divorce can also be disputed where the person who has received a divorce application has already made an application for a divorce order of his or her own.
What happens if my husband and I make a joint application but he or she has a change of mind?
If you applied to the court jointly but your spouse has now had a change of mind you will still be allowed to conclude your divorce proceedings even without the co-operation of your husband or wife. The new laws are designed to prevent one part of a married couple holding the other to ransom.
What does the divorce process involve?
The process involves submitting a divorce application to the court for the divorce on-line. The person making the application is called the applicant and the person receiving the divorce application is called the respondent.
The respondent must be notified of the divorce application and he or she will need to submit an acknowledgement on-line within 14 days of the date of receiving the divorce application.
After 20 weeks the applicant can apply for a conditional order. If both the husband and wife applied for a divorce jointly then they can also jointly apply for a conditional order. After a further 6 weeks they can apply for a final order that will formally bring the marriage to an end.
How long will the new divorce process take?
The divorce process cannot take less than 26 weeks. This is because there is a cooling off period of 20 weeks from the time that you make your application to the court for a divorce order to the time that you are allowed to continue your divorce proceedings with your application for a conditional order. You must then wait for another 6 weeks before you can apply for your final order. The court can reduce that waiting period is some circumstances.
Saika Alam is a well-respected Family and Divorce lawyer based in London, Mayfair. Known for her personal and practical approach many clients work with Saika on both their most complex, family, divorce and children related matters.