On 31 March, the online portal will be closing to allow necessary updates to be made ahead of the 'no fault divorce' process going live on 6 April 2022. This means that anyone wishing to issue their divorce petition before the new rules come into force, must file their petition now.
Failure to do so, could result in petitions being returned. This will lead to further unnecessary costs and time being spent preparing a new petition in line with the new process.
On 6 April, individuals and family law practitioners alike, will be welcoming the introduction of 'no fault divorce'. This means that divorcing couples will no longer be required to evidence why their relationship has irretrievably broken down - the fact that it has will be enough. This is to avoid the requirement for one party to effectively blame the other by, for example, citing their unreasonable behaviour or adultery.
The hope is that the new process will reduce the risk of heightened animosity between separating couples. It is accepted that the breakdown of a relationship is never without emotion, however the existing legal process can, in some cases, inflame an already difficult situation.
As family lawyers, we have seen couples wishing to separate amicably only to be confronted with antiquated divorce legislation seeking to apportion blame. This understandably can lead to negotiations breaking down, or becoming protracted. The forthcoming change in the law is therefore something to be welcomed by family practitioners.
If you intend to issue divorce proceedings, we recommend that you seek family law advice from a family law solicitor and file your petition now.
The guidance suggests that even if petitions are received by the court by 31 March, there is no guarantee that they will be issued by 6 April, therefore you may need to restart the process again.