No-fault divorce advocates will have welcomed the recent news that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, initially introduced in June 2019, has reached the finishing line of its parliamentary journey. On 17 June 2020, the bill concluded its passage through the House of Commons and is now one step closer to receiving Royal assent. This has come after years of criticism over the current divorce laws of England and Wales being too adversarial and ultimately damaging for many families.
Under the current divorce laws, in England and Wales, one spouse is required to initiate the process of filing for divorce. If the divorce is contested by the other party, the couple will be required to live apart for a minimum of five years before they will be considered eligible for divorce. If the divorce is not contested by the other party, the separation period will be for two years before the marriage can be legally dissolved, even if the decision is mutual. If the divorce applicant does not want to wait for a period of two to five years before being granted a divorce, he or she will be required to blame the other party at a level that will convince the judge (the three main allegations being: adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion). These allegations can often create a hostile environment, especially where children are involved.What changes can I expect from a no-fault divorce?
The new no-fault divorce system will remove the attribution of blame for the breakdown of the relationship and allow for couples to cite that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ as the sole ground for wanting to obtain a divorce, without having to prove that the breakdown was the fault of the other spouse.
The new system will require divorcing couples to produce a statement to confirm that the marriage has broken down irretrievably; it will allow couples to bring a petition for divorce jointly and stop one partner from contesting a divorce if the other wants one. Ultimately, it is thought that this change in divorce laws will make it more likely that arrangements for any dependent children and finances will be sorted out amicably and quickly.
Unfortunately, couples seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait until Autumn 2021. Until then, if you are currently considering a divorce and trying to understand how the system works and what your options might be, then it is worth considering one of our separating couples packages which are prepared by solicitors who are experts in their field. These packages will help you navigate through this difficult period by giving you access to the most reliable and up to date legal information at an affordable and transparent cost.