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No Fault Divorce will be introduced on the 6th April 2022

The new Act for ‘no fault’ divorce was passed in June 2020 but we are now in the final countdown and no fault divorce will be introduced on the 6th April 2022.

What is no fault divorce?

Under the current legislation divorcing couples can only apply for a divorce if they can prove to the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.  This means unless you have been separated for more than 2 years some degree of blame must be put on the party receiving the application.  This has been known to add huge amounts of animosity and stress to the process and  often inflates the cost of the divorce.

Under the new legislation, the blame element will be removed.  Couples will be able to divorce without having to apportion blame for their spouse’s behaviour, adultery or desertion or for causing them to have been separated for 5 years or for 2 years with consent.

It’s also important to note that as the element of blame will no longer exist, the divorce application cannot be contested (unless it’s contested on the grounds of the validity of the marriage).

The changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Is no fault divorce a good idea?

The authorities and the legal experts involved in the Act’s consultancy period hope that removing the blame will allow couples to progress their divorce more amicably, more productively and more cost-effectively, especially  as the new system will allow both parties to apply on a joint basis.

All of the traditional legal jargon will also be removed.  The first stage of the divorce process, the “Decree Nisi”, will now be known as the “Conditional Order” while the final stage the “Decree Absolute”, will now be the “Final Order”.

It is also important to note that the new legislation will be matched with a new online divorce process.  This means that if you have started or are about to start  a divorce, things will need to be halted between March 31st and April 6th as the Ministry of Justice makes the switch to their online platform.

To help you manage the process the family law community organisation Resolution have posted the following important dates to remember as the changes take place:

  • Digital applications must be submitted by 4pm on the 31st March 2022
  • Paper applications must be received by the court by 4pm on the 31st March 2022
  • Urgent applications must be received by the court by 4pm on the 5th April 2022
  • The new paper and digital services will be available from the 6th April 2022

If you have any questions on no fault divorce being introduced on the 6th April or questions relating to family law or would like to discuss any aspect of your relationship in total confidence please contact please contact our family partners bernadette.hoy@collinshoy.com or aisling.collins@collinshoy.com