08 June 2021
‘No fault divorce’ delayed until April 2022
The implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which will see the biggest shake up of divorce laws in 50 years, was meant to come into force this Autumn but has now been pushed back to 6th April 2022 to allow time for the essential IT changes to be made to HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s online divorce systems.
The Act means:
- The sole ground for divorce – that a marriage has broken down irretrievably – will remain. However it removes the requirement to evidence this, on the basis of the current five factors – the most controversial being the other party’s behaviour, which so often is regarded as meaning their ‘fault’. In reality, the breakdown of a marriage is rarely attributable to one person.
- There will be no possibility to challenge the irretrievable breakdown and so costly contested proceedings should be avoided.
- The process should be faster, in that the final order, previously, the “decree absolute,” could be obtained within 20 weeks.
Although the Act aims to reduce animosity between couples, it is important to be aware that these changes affect the divorce process and cannot take away the pain of separation.
In the family team’s experience, acrimony stems from how spouses treat each other and react to the breakdown of their relationship. Although the changes are welcomed, respect and communication between spouses, being honest, not rushing into anything and choosing your lawyer carefully, are essential to achieving an amicable divorce. Counselling could also be considered before embarking on the formal process, as this may be helpful too.