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The new divorce terminology explained

View profile for Amy Langlois
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The new divorce terminology explained

Divorce changed completely on April 6th 2022. No-fault divorce took over from the previous 'fault-based' divorce and, with that, divorce terminology was also updated.

In this article, Family Associate Amy Langlois outlines and defines the new terminology going forward.

What is no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce is a divorce which doesn’t require either party involved to blame the other for the breakdown of the relationship.

This differs from the previous ‘fault-based’ divorce.

No-fault divorce came into force on 6th April 2022.

Find out exactly how no-fault divorce works here.

What changes were made to divorce law?

Aside from no-fault divorce being introduced, there are other changes to divorce law which have been introduced:

  • There's be no ability for the other part to defend the divorce
  • Its only be possible to dispute a divorce on jurisdictional grounds, on the validity of the marriage or civil partnership or fraud and/or procedural compliance
  • Both parties are able to apply for divorce jointly, submitting a joint application
  • There’s an additional statutory delay between the date in which the application is issued and the application for the conditional order
  • Some important terminology changes

What is the new no-fault divorce terminology?

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most important terminology changes and their definitions…

Application (formerly Petition)

The term ‘application’ has replaced ‘petition’.

When divorce is applied for, either solely or jointly, this is now known as a ‘Divorce Application’.

Applicant (formerly petitioner)

As you’d expect, following the previous term change, the ‘petitioner’ is now known as the ‘Applicant’.

For joint applications, where two applicants are involved, they are known as ‘Applicant 1’ and ‘Applicant 2’.

Learn more about joint no-fault divorce here.

Conditional Order (formerly Decree Nisi)

The term ‘conditional order’ has replaced the former ‘decree nisi’.

What is a conditional order?

A conditional order is effectively the confirmation that you are entitled to a divorce.

After the conditional order is confirmed, there is an additional 6 weeks before the final order is granted.

Learn more about the timings involved in a no-fault divorce here.

Final Order (formerly Decree Absolute)

The final order, formally decree absolute, concludes the divorce process.

How long does a no-fault divorce take?

A no-fault divorce, from application to finalisation, should take roughly 6-8 months to complete.

You can read our full article, where we provide a further breakdown of the timings involved, here.

Can I do a NFD myself?

In short, yes. Under the new law, it is still possible to do a divorce yourself online through the gov.uk website.

Due to the introduction of no-fault divorce and change in divorce law, more and more couples have looked to complete DIY/online divorces.

However, do it yourself divorce does have its drawbacks and isn't  suitable in all circumstances.

My colleague Louisa Knight wrote about DIY divorce and its pros and cons in more detail in her complete article. Read it here.

Learn more about no-fault divorce

My colleague Andy Stynes has written an article which covers everything you need to know about no-fault divorce, including:

  • Why it has been introduced
  • How exactly it works
  • An outline of the process involved
  • Details on eligibility
  • And more

Click here to read that article.

Specialist no-fault divorce solicitors

At Frettens, our team of bright and approachable family solicitors specialise in offering pragmatic legal advice in plain English.

We can assist you in your divorce, financial order or child arrangements order.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients. Simply call us on 01202 499255 or fill out the form at the top of this page to get in touch.

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