How does the divorce process work currently?
Currently in England and Wales one spouse has to make accusations about the other’s conduct such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery or otherwise proceed on the basis of separation before a divorce can be granted even in situations where a couple have jointly agreed to separate. Unsurprisingly this process has been described as ‘archaic’ and ‘completely out of touch with modern life’. Some would say that it creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already difficult time for couples, often making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships when co-parenting.
How will the new no-fault divorce law change things?
With the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 and no-fault divorce, married couples will be able to divorce without assigning blame. The new law allows for a statement of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ and also joint applications for divorce to be made, along with the option for one party to initiate the process……..without any finger pointing. There will be no requirement to refer to or evidence bad behaviour.
Furthermore, there will be no ability to contest the divorce. A minimum time period will be introduced of 6 months from petition to final decree representing a meaningful period of reflection with the opportunity to turn back. Although it is possible under current law for a divorce to take a shorter timeframe, this at least allows parties to reflect on whether the decision to end the marriage is the right one.
This change has been welcomed by many family law professionals as marking a real departure from the previous law passed in 1973 and reflects the vast changes in society and attitudes towards marriage and divorce.
Helping you through the process
Some couples may wish to delay proceedings until the new legislation comes into force, others may feel that their issues have become more time critical. If you’re considering or are about to start divorce proceedings then speak to one of our highly experienced team of divorce lawyers. We can advise you on all aspects of family law including divorce, separation, civil partnerships, finances, cohabitation, children matters (including contact), pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements in addition to care proceedings.