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This article was published on March 29th, 2022
The current divorce laws in England and Wales are set to change as a new ‘no-fault divorce’ legislation comes into force on April 6th 2022. The current divorce laws date back more than 50 years as a part of The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Currently, regardless of whether a couple has made a mutual decision to split, one spouse must bring accusations about the other’s conduct, such as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or infidelity, or else face years of separation, before a divorce may be granted.
No-fault divorce will eliminate the need to prove that one party was at fault for the marriage ending. Instead, both parties can mutually agree that the marriage has broken down, removing the need for blame.
The new legislation is expected to create a more straightforward way to begin divorce procedures, reducing the amount of hostility that often arises at the start of divorce proceedings. This will allow divorcing couples to focus on other important matters such as finances, property and children. The legislation will aline with the government’s approach to family justice – avoiding conflict wherever possible to reduce the damaging effect on any children involved.
The government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will drastically reform the divorce process. The following points explain what the divorce law reforms will look like:
The most notable element of the changes in legislation is the removal of blame from the divorce process. Divorcing couples will no longer need to rely on one of the five facts to prove an irretrievable breakdown. Separating couples can instead provide a statement on irretrievable breakdown.
The new no-fault divorce legislation will also allow separating couples to apply for a divorce jointly when they both agree that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.
The new legislation also removes the ability for one spouse to contest a divorce. This is a significant step toward removing a form of domestic violence in which a partner can use the law to prevent divorce and keep their spouse in the marriage against their will.
Some of the wording used in the divorce process has been identified as outdated and overcomplicated. This wording will be simplified, for example, the first stage of a divorce will be known as a Conditional Order and the second stage as a Final Order.
There will be a minimum timeframe of 20 weeks from the start of the proceedings to making a Conditional Order. This will be introduced as a ‘period of reflection’ to counteract concerns that the new reforms will make divorce an easier option than attempting to save their marriage. There will then be a second period of six weeks between the Conditional Order and Final Order.
If you are considering a no-fault divorce get in touch today. At Thorneycroft Solicitors, we understand that separation is an extremely difficult time for a family regardless of the new legislation – from issues regarding your children and how to approach sharing assets, divorce settlements can be very distressing.
Our dedicated and experienced team of specialist divorce solicitors understand how traumatic and complex divorce can be. Our strong legal guidance, professional divorce advice and empathetic approach aims to minimise some of the emotional upheavals at what can be a very stressful time.
To speak to a member of our specialist team, contact us on 0800 1979345 or fill out our simple enquiry form and we can arrange a time that suits you.