The biggest shake up to divorce law in over 50 years!

There are currently 5 facts that can be relied upon for divorce; adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, living apart for more than 2 years – with your spouse’s written consent to the divorce, and living apart for more than five years – which does not require consent from your spouse, but which sometimes requires permission from the court.

Almost 2 years ago we wrote an article about the negative effects that “blame” has on divorce proceedings. In essence, if a couple want to get divorced before the 2 years separation period, the problems are that once a divorce is underway one of the parties has to accept responsibility for the relationship breaking down. If neither party will accept this then the process can become charged with accusations, bad feeling and animosity.

Now, we are relieved to see that these grounds are to be overhauled. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, commonly known as the ‘No Fault Divorce’ Bill has received Royal Assent. It is expected to become law but not until Autumn 2021.

The new law will remove the requirement to apportion blame on one party or the other for the breakdown of the marriage, by giving details of one of the five facts outlined above. Instead, just the ground of ‘irretrievable breakdown’ will have to be cited.

A crucial difference in the new rules is that currently one party has to start the divorce proceedings against the other. Under the new legislation it is proposed that both parties can bring the proceedings jointly.

A new minimum 6 month timescale has been applied from initial application until the divorce (Decree Absolute) is granted. This will allow couples crucial time to reflect and possibly turn back, or try and agree other important issues like the arrangements for children.

So this change is likely to facilitate more amicable divorce arrangements. Both sides should feel as though they have made decisions jointly.  Not only will this result in a more positive outcome during the divorce process itself, but also arrangements that will work long term.

Resolution; the community of family law professionals, has been at the forefront of the campaign for ‘no fault’ divorce. Our Family Law solicitor, Nicholas Clough has been a proud member of Resolution for over 20 years.

Regarding the change in law, Nicholas commented:

“As a solicitor in family law, this is a most welcome change that will have an overwhelming impact not only on divorcing couples but on the whole family infrastructure.

It is unfortunate that for years, I have witnessed couples who started proceedings amicably but the apportionment of blame has had a destructive impact on negotiations and discussions. – This will prevent such breakdowns occurring.

The removal of blame from divorce proceedings will no doubt support a longer term, positive relationship being maintained between former spouses”.

If you would like to discuss divorce or any other family matter, please contact Nicholas Clough or Carole Nettleton on 0161 615 5554, by email to family@psg-law.co.uk or via livechat at www.psg-law.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!