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On the 06 April 2022, we will see the first changes to the divorce process/legislation for decades. For anyone thinking of starting a divorce, below will hopefully provide you with some important points to consider and some of the changes coming into force.

What exactly is happening on the 06 April 2022?

The “No Fault” divorce will be introduced. This means that no “blame” has to be attached to start the process whether that be by way of adultery or unreasonable behaviour (together with periods of desertion and separation) for a marriage to be dissolved.

What is happening now if I want to start a divorce?

You can still issue a divorce petition now but your application (whether it be via the online portal or on paper) must be received by the court by 4pm on the 31 March 2022.

Petitions issued before the changes will have to be based on current grounds, i.e. adultery, behaviour, desertion or separation.

If you have a petition that is going through the system at the present time that will not change in terms of how it is dealt with and concluded.

What is changing?

Some of the main changes are as follows.

The biggest change is clearly the removal of the requirement to name the other party by way of their conduct or actions. You will be able to obtain a divorce by confirming that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The terminology is also changing. By way of example:

  • The petition becomes the application
  • The petitioner (one who starts the process) becomes the applicant
  • The decree nisi (the halfway stage where the court confirms that you will be allowed a divorce) becomes a conditional order
  • Decree absolute (the final decree dissolving your marriage) becomes a final order.

One other important change is the ability to file a joint application. This means that husbands and wives can work together and file one application themselves in order to jointly dissolve the marriage.

A 20-week time period is also introduced. 20 weeks must elapse from the date your application is issued by the court to you applying for the conditional order (6 weeks must pass between the conditional order and final order) this is the same at the time period between decree nisi and decree absolute currently in place.

It is also noteworthy that the ability to defend an application is now removed. You will be unable to prevent your marriage being dissolved if one spouse starts the process. There are very extenuating circumstances where this may be possible but the grounds are very restricted and it would centre around whether the court has jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage and also whether the marriage is valid or not.

There is a slight change with regards to the costs position as well. Currently a contribution to the costs could be requested in the petition at the outset. Now any applicant wanting to seek a costs contribution from their spouse has to specifically make an application. The aim is to obviously reduce conflicts around the whole process and it is hoped that spouses discuss in advance who will be paying the court fee and solicitors costs by way of example and deal with that directly themselves.

Does anything stay the same?

The process to dissolve your marriage will consist around completing forms, plus your marriage certificate, plus paying a court fee at the outset.

The online process via the portal remains so as to streamline everything.

There are different stages with different waiting periods which is similar to what is in place now.


The changes to the divorce process have been a long time in the making. The aim is to reduce stress and conflict around ending marriages with the hope that the parties can work together. The online divorce portal has now been in place for some time, and we would therefore anticipate a straightforward transaction once the “go live” date of 06 April 2022 arrives.

For advice on divorce please contact Helen Davies at or call her on 01244 568635.

Want to find out more? Visit our Family Law page for our full list of services and more information about DTM Legal.


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