How to get a Divorce with the new rules
- AuthorNeil Denny
The Law governing how to get a divorce changes on 6 April 2022. The rules have been changed to avoid conflict and simplify the divorce process.
The headline change is that all you have to do to qualify for a divorce is to tick a box on the application form confirming that; "Your marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably". You have to sign a Statement of Truth confirming that the application is true and there is a stark warning that "proceedings for contempt of Court may be brought against anyone who makes or causes to be made a false statement".
The same divorce application form and the same rules apply for both heterosexual and same sex marriage and also civil partnerships. Under the new rules you will not be able to ask your partner to reimburse you the cost of your divorce unless you make a separate Court application.
It is also notable that your partner cannot defend the divorce by trying to argue that the marriage has not actually broken down. You can only oppose the divorce if:-
- You believe that the Court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the divorce – this is typically because of issues arising about in which country the parties to the marriage live.
- The marriage is not valid in the first place.
- The marriage has already legally ended.
Once the divorce application has been issued then it will be sent to the receiving partner's usual email address and a letter will be sent to their physical address confirming that the email has been sent. The receiving partner, called the Respondent, should then file a form acknowledging that they have received the divorce application within 14 days.
The next stage is called the Conditional Order. This can be applied for 20 weeks after the divorce application has been issued by the Court. The final Divorce Order can then be made six weeks after that.
The minimum time to get a divorce in most cases will therefore be 26 weeks. There are special rules where an urgent divorce is required but they will only apply in very rare circumstances.
There are other more detailed rules that apply where the receiving party does not respond to the Court. We recommend that you take independent legal advice if those complications arise.
There are details on https://www.gov.uk explaining how you can apply for your own divorce if you choose, however care needs to be taken with regard to the new rules and many people will still prefer to have lawyers complete these documents for them. Bear in mind also that the divorce in itself does not deal with the financial issues that will arise as a result of the divorce. Sorting out how to divide up your assets, including your home, needs serious consideration and are only settled finally through a Court order.
"It is startling just how much of the law has been thrown out with this new regime," says Neil Denny Family Law Partner at Chattertons Lincoln office, "All of the old facts that people use to argue about such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery or the date of separation have been done away with."
"It remains to be seen whether the intended goal of minimising conflict is achieved. I think it will still require ongoing efforts from all involved in family separation to ensure that acrimony is minimised. Great care still needs to be taken in negotiating and agreeing financial arrangements and making sure that such arrangements, even clean breaks, are properly recorded in a Consent Order filed at Court."
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