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Introduction of no-fault divorce is a welcome step forward, writes Emma Darley of Ringrose Law, Newark

Divorce law in England and Wales is set to change, with the introduction of the no fault divorce, writes Emma Darley of Ringrose Law, Newark.

The UK government confirmed, in 2018, that our divorce laws are out of touch with modern life.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will remove the concept of fault and is expected to come into force in autumn 2022.

EMMA DARLEY, of Ringrose Law. (41841928)
EMMA DARLEY, of Ringrose Law. (41841928)

This change has been hailed as the biggest shake up in divorce law for 50 years.

As the law currently stands, there is only one ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

One spouse must file for divorce and blame the other for the breakdown of the relationship by citing one of the following legally recognised reasons ­— adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

If they cannot satisfy the court that one of these three reasons apply the couple must live separately for a period of either two or five years before the marriage can be legally dissolved.

The new legislation brings about long overdue and welcome reform and will allow couples to divorce on the basis that the marriage has simply broken down.

There will no longer be the requirement to cite one of the reasons outlined above.

The main differences include:

  • Couples will be able to make a joint application for divorce and can mutually cite irretrievable breakdown.
  • There will be a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
  • Either spouse will be able to provide a statement confirming that the marriage has broken down without the need to blame the other.
  • The statement can also be submitted jointly.
  • The language of divorce will change. The decree nisi will be known as the conditional order and the decree absolute will become the final order of divorce.
  • There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between the divorce papers being issued and being able to apply for the conditional order.
  • This time frame is designed to be a period of reflection allowing couples the opportunity to consider if there is any prospect of reconciliation before fully committing to the divorce process.
  • It will no longer be possible to contest a divorce.

These changes will also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Baroness Hale, the former president of the Supreme Court has been an advocate for change and believes that being able to say the relationship has simply failed, without the requirement to hold one person accountable, could go some way to easing the stress and pain often endured during divorce.

It is hoped that the new no fault divorce will reduce conflict and enable divorcing couples to focus on other important issues such as children, property and matrimonial finances.

If you are thinking of getting divorced please get in touch to discuss your individual circumstances.

Contact Emma Darley, head of the family law team at Ringrose Law on 01636 594460.

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