Divorce and separation – a changing landscape

Divorce and separation


The Divorce, Dissolution, and Separation Act 2020 reformed the legal requirements for divorce. Previously there were five facts that could be used to rely on the ground for a divorce. The new legislation has removed that requirement, leading to what we as practitioners refer to as a “no fault divorce”.

This removes any “finger pointing”. Parties are now able to make not only single applications, but joint applications. No evidence is now required to establish the breakdown of the marriage. A statement is required to confirm that the marriage has irrevocably broken down. This statement is conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down.

An application can easily be made online. A 20-week waiting period has been introduced from the initial application to the application for a conditional order. The conditional order is the first stage of the divorce (previously the equivalent was the Decree Nisi). At this stage the Court considers the documents submitted and confirms that you are entitled to a divorce – but you are not divorced yet. A date will be set to pronounce the conditional order, but it is only in rare circumstances you will be required to attend (usually if there is an issue over the divorce costs).

After the 20-week period it is possible to apply for the final order. It used to be the case that the final order could be defended if there was a financial detriment to the other party. This is now much harder to do. It is only under exceptional circumstances that the court would allow an application for a final order to be delayed. The final order can be applied for after 6 weeks of the conditional order (albeit there are some exceptions where this can be brought forward).

The Court fee at present to issue divorce proceedings is £593. This is paid at the time of issuing the application, and there is no fee payable for the conditional order of final order.

If you have any queries about the process of the divorce, please do get in touch with one of our Family Law Specialists who will be able to discuss this with you in more detail.

For more information contact our specialist family law team.

T: 0800 302 9448

E: info@pictons.co.uk