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No-Fault Divorce: What Are The Changes?

Nov 17 2020 | Family Law

by Theresa Wright

by Theresa Wright

Head of Family Law

In this article

How does a no-fault divorce work?

The no-fault divorce process is now much more straightforward. Firstly, a party must produce a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

What is a statement of irretrievable breakdown?

A statement of irretrievable breakdown is a reason as to why a party is seeking a divorce. With the no-fault legislation, this statement is the only evidence you need to file for divorce.

Next, an application is submitted to the court. This is either a sole application or a joint application involving both parties.

Once this is issued, there is then a 20 week period until the next stage can be applied for. This is referred to as the conditional order and confirms that the court is in agreement that the marriage has broken down and that the final order can be applied for in due course.

The final order can be applied for 6 weeks after the conditional order is made. This finalises the divorce and means that you will now be legally separated.

From the date the application is issued, the minimum time it can take to finalise a divorce is 26 weeks (or 6 months.)

no fault divorce full process

What terminology has changed through this legislation?

No-fault divorce has altered some of the prior historic terminology. The changes are as follows:

  • Application (previously ‘petition’) – This is the document submitted to the court to apply for a divorce or dissolve a civil partnership.
  • Applicant (previously ‘petitioner’) – This is the person who applies for the divorce. In the case of a joint application, the parties become ‘applicant 1’ and ‘applicant 2.’
  • Conditional Order (previously ‘Decree Nisi’) – A document that states the court deems the divorce to be satisfactory.
  • Final Order (previously ‘Decree Absolute’) – The final document that ends the marriage.
  • Separation Order (previously ‘Separation Decree’) – A document that confirms that both parties from the marriage are now legally separated.
  • Nullity of Marriage Order (previously ‘Decree of Nullity’) – A document that states the marriage is void or voidable. This affirms that there is no valid marriage between the two parties.

This simplification of legislative wording comes alongside making the divorce process less complicated and easier to understand.

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