No-Fault Divorce in the UK
Date Posted:Tue, 19th Jul 2022
On 6 April 2022, a major overhaul of the UK divorce law took place. No fault divorce was introduced and with it removed the ‘blame game’ from divorce. This was a welcome change to many who claimed divorce laws were outdated and no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
Couples are now able to get divorced on the basis that the marriage has broken down, without the need to apportion blame to one party. Relationship breakdown is a very emotionally charged situation and being able to go through the legal process without needing/being able to blame someone, will hopefully make this situation smoother, for many divorcing couples.
Whilst the sole ground for divorce has not changed; being that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, parties now no longer need to select one of the five fault-based facts nor show a period of separation. This was a requirement within the previous divorce laws as adultery or unreasonable behavior needed to be stated as the reason for divorce if the parties did not want to wait for a minim of 2 years before applying. In essence, to ensure the divorce was processed, one party had to therefore blame the other, if they did not want to wait.
The new divorce laws have taken away such requirements and significant changes have been bought about to the process. Below is an overview of the changes that have come into effect;
- Parties can now get divorced without apportioning blame or having to ‘prove’ that the marriage has broken down. There is no requirement to use one of the previous ‘five facts’ of divorce and the ground for divorce is simply that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
- Contesting or defending the divorce is no longer possible, save as to in certain circumstances including jurisdictional issues. Sole applications for divorce can be made, which will allow one party to ask for a divorce, even if the other does not want this.
- There is now a mandatory 26-week period between issuing the application and receiving the final order, this will allow time for the parties to reflect on the divorce and also deal with any associated child arrangements or financial remedy matters.
- Couples can now also make a joint application for divorce, an option that was previously not available. This will remove any animosity between the parties as the divorce will proceed jointly and both will be involved in the process. It also means that one party cannot ‘unreasonably delay’ the process.
- Service of the papers will be carried out by the court and can now be done via email. The courts have also imposed a 28-day time limit in which the documents need to be served on the other party. This will ensure both parties are aware of the divorce application from the onset and can proceed on an equal footing.
It is hoped that such changes will encourage divorces to proceed in a constructive and amicable manner, with parties focusing on child arrangements or financial matters as opposed to apportioning blame. It will also remove any acrimonious litigation, whereby one party is forced to stay in a marriage, such as in Owens v Owens 2018.
For British ex-pats living in Dubai this means that you can apply for divorce in the UK, without the need to blame your spouse, the process can be done online and the service of the divorce application can take place via email. This will ensure the process is simpler and smoother for all involved.
If you would like any further information in relation to the divorce process, please contact one of our UK-qualified family law experts for an initial consultation.
“The author of this article is Meera Shinh, Family Solicitor at TWS Legal Consultants DMCC.
Should you wish to seek legal guidance with regards to a family/divorce matter through the Dubai Court or the UK, please feel free to contact one of our family lawyers at TWS Legal Consultants. Email us at [email protected] or call +971 4 448 4284. Website: www.twslegal.ae