Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

5th April 2022

On 6th April the long awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force, this has also been labelled the “No Fault Divorce Bill” as there will no longer be a requirement to provide evidence of “conduct” or “separation” to file for divorce.

The Ministry of Justice state:

“The DDSA represents the biggest reform of divorce laws in half a century and aims to reduce the impact that conflict and allegations of blame can have on families, and in particular, on any children.”

“Previously, the party seeking divorce had to satisfy the court that the legal test of irretrievable breakdown was met, by citing one or more of ‘five facts’.  The new law will remove the requirement to assign blame, by allowing one party – or the couple jointly – to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown. No evidence will be required for this beyond a statement. It will also limit the ability of one party to challenge a divorce – which in some cases has allowed domestic abusers to exercise further coercive control over their victim.”

Amendments include:

  • removing the requirement to provide evidence of ‘conduct’ or ‘separation’ facts and replacing this with a simple requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership or to obtain a judicial separation.
  • removing the ability to defend the decision to divorce or end the civil partnership.
  • allowing, for the first time, joint applications for divorce, dissolution, and separation, meaning that couples can now apply together for a divorce, dissolution, or separation.
  • introducing a new minimum overall timeframe of six months (26 weeks) made up of a ‘minimum period’ of 20 weeks in divorce and dissolution proceedings between the start of proceedings (when the court issues the application) and when the applicant(s) may apply for a conditional order and the current minimum timeframe of 6 weeks between the conditional order and when the order can be made final. This ensures that there is a period of reflection, and where divorce is inevitable, provides a greater opportunity for couples to agree the practical arrangements for the future.
  • updating the legal language used for divorce. ‘Petition’ will become ‘Application’, ‘Petitioner’ will become ‘Applicant’, ‘Decree Nisi’ will become ‘Conditional Order’ and ‘Decree Absolute’ will become ‘Final Order’. This makes language simpler and more accessible to those outside the legal profession, and aligns across all legislation relating to divorce, dissolution, and separation.

If you would like to make an enquiry regarding divorce you can contact our team on 01392 424242 or email

You can read the MOJ’s full information pack on the changes here.