Divorce - marriage has irretrievably broken down

The Divorce, Dissolution And Separation Act 2020 came into force on 6th April 2022.

The new Act simplifies the procedure for divorce and introduces what is popularly termed "no-fault" divorce.

One party to the divorce (or both parties to the divorce can make a joint application) - you only need to show that you have been married for more than 12 months and that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down is taken as fact. This means the divorce cannot be contested or objected to by one of the parties if they do not want to be divorced.

Divorce proceedings can still be challenged for other reasons but only in limited circumstances, such as jurisdiction, the validity of the marriage, fraud and procedural compliance. 

You no longer need to give one of the previous five reasons or grounds for the divorce; these were:

Your partner has committed Adultery

Your partner has behaved unreasonably

You and your partner have been separated for at least 2 years

You and your partner have been separated for at least 5 years

Your partner has deserted you for at least 2 years

The Act also introduces a minimum timeframe for the divorce of 6 months (26 weeks). This is 20 weeks between the start of proceedings and when the application can be progressed to conditional order, followed by a minimum timeframe of six weeks between the grant of a conditional order (decree nisi) and when the order can be made final (decree absolute). The government also has the right to adjust this timescale between the order stages but not adjust the overall length of 26 weeks for the divorce.


Which form do I need to start a divorce?

Relationships & Family Law