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No fault divorce

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Practitioners and clients have finally received the long-awaited news. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill passed its final hearing in the House of Commons in June and is now heading towards Royal Assent. We should hope to see that this is implemented in Autumn 2021. This has been the biggest shake-up of divorce law in the past 50 years and means that a no-fault divorce will replace the current provisions.

The current law states that if you want to divorce your spouse, you must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down as a result of one of five facts: adultery, behaviour, 2 years separation, desertion or 5 years separation. Your spouse also has the opportunity to contest the divorce.  The most popular choice at the moment is behaviour, where you have to list reasons why you cannot be expected to live with your spouse. This however can lead to animosity and further acrimony between couples. The second most popular choice is 2 years separation, however for some couples they cannot wait 2 years to be separated from their spouse.

The new law will mean that instead of one party being blamed for the marriage breakdown, a couple can mutually cite irretrievable breakdown as the sole grounds for wanting a divorce.  This can be done in a joint statement or by an individual. You will be able to provide a statement saying that the marriage has broken down but will not have to provide evidence of your spouse’s behaviour. Your spouse will also be unable to contest the divorce.

The bill is also introducing a 20-week period between when someone initially petitions and when the court will grant the provisional decree of divorce (otherwise known as the Decree Nisi). This has been done to enable the parties to have a period of reflection and the chance to change their minds. This will also allow parties the opportunity to agree to practical arrangements for the future where a divorce is inevitable.

If you are considering whether you should wait for the no-fault divorce law before divorcing your spouse, this would depend upon the circumstances of your marriage breakdown. If you believe that your spouse will vehemently object to a divorce and you have not been separated for over two years, this could be an ideal situation to wait for.

At Hayman Solicitors, we offer a free 30-minute initial consultation.  If you wish to book an appointment with one of the team, please call 01483 600 900.