The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 brings into force in England and Wales changes to the basis upon which couples can dissolve their marriage or civil partnership. It introduces what is being referred to as ‘the no fault divorce’ from 6 April 2022 an application can be made either jointly by a separating couple, or one of them, on the basis only of the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage/ civil partnership. The hope and intention is that these changes will result in less acrimony between a separating couple and less damage to their children.
However, while the changes are welcomed by many, B P Collins’ family team warn that these procedural changes cannot themselves take away the pain, uncertainty and fear of separation which is very often the cause of tension/ difficulty at the end of a relationship, and highlight a number of things which separating couples can do to help achieve a good or good enough divorce.
- Don’t rush into the formal process. Allow time for you both to accept and acknowledge that your relationship is over. Give yourself and your former partner time and space to grieve both the end of your relationship and the future you will no longer have. Within the new procedure there is a mandatory 20-week cooling off period before being able to proceed with the divorce, the aim being to give time for reflection, but try, where possible, to take time before lodging the initial application.
- The changes don’t take away the need to discuss child arrangements with your former partner. When you have children, their needs and interests should be considered first. This is vital for their wellbeing, but can also benefit you and your former partner, since it shifts the focus onto ‘little people’ who rely upon you, and that can help to build a strong foundation for you to co-parent your children, which is so important since you will have an ongoing relationship for the rest of your lives as parents, and are likely to attend events together from school parents’ evening to your children’s weddings, so you need to be able to get on.
- Always keep an eye on the bigger picture and the long-term. When dealing with financial matters try not to bring up past events, or make accusations about each other. If you can avoid that, it should help to prevent each of you adopting entrenched positions, and the delay and cost of litigation that can cause.
- You will each be required to provide complete and clear information about your financial and other material circumstances, which includes any intention to live with someone else or remarry. Be frank about all matters and not play games in the disclosure process. Trust and respect are vital for a good ending.
- Counsellors can offer crucial help. Talking and being heard in a neutral and supportive environment can help you and your former partner to vocalise your upset and any grievances, which may be more important now that you can no longer do so in a divorce petition. A counsellor will be able to suggest mechanisms to help to keep the emotion out of the formal matters which need to be dealt with. Also, instruct a specialist family lawyer, with whom you have a rapport and feel supported by. That will be someone who will provide clear and constructive advice, even if that includes things you don’t want to hear. This support should help you to deal with matters amicably and so be able to move forward without bitterness and upset.
Although ‘no fault’ divorce is welcomed, a commitment to having a good/ good enough divorce is so important from a wellbeing, cost and time perspective. For further advice on how to achieve an amicable divorce, please contact B P Collins’ family team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01753 279046.