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Legal Update: Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill
23
June

Legal Update: Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill

By: Abigail Whelan

Tags: Collaborative Family Law, Family, Family Law

You may have seen our previous blogs on the topic of the proposed divorce law reforms.  If you haven’t, you can find them here: -

As you may be aware, under the present law, unless a separated couple are willing to wait at least 2 years from the date of separation for the court to grant a divorce, they will have to give a reason why the marriage or civil partnership has broken down, meaning that one person effectively has to blame the other. This can cause tension where a separation is otherwise amicable, leading to a knock-on effect when parties are trying to sort out financial arrangements.

Under the proposed new law, the “blame” requirement will be removed. A couple that wish to divorce will have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, without assigning blame to one party.   The new law will also enable both spouses to make a joint application where a decision to divorce is mutual. 

On the 17th June 2020, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation bill had its final reading in the House of Commons and is expected to receive Royal Assent shortly.  

It is unclear exactly when these changes to the law will be implemented, however the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland, has indicated that the new law is unlikely to come into force before autumn 2021.  

At FDC Law, when a divorce based on unreasonable behaviour is the only option, as is often the case under the present law, we always aim to keep the contents of the divorce petition to a minimum, so as to reduce conflict at an already stressful time. We will continue to adopt this approach until the new law comes into force, for couples that do not wish to wait for a change in the law or two years separation, to proceed with a divorce, without undue stress and delay.

The new law is welcomed by most family lawyers, as it means that they can help couples to resolve matters as amicably as possible in the circumstances.  We anticipate that this will have a positive impact,  as it can help to reduce the conflict and stress for the couple themselves, which in turn can help reduce the impact on any children, and of course, the less conflict the is, the lower your costs are likely to be!  

Resolution have been campaigning for changes to divorce law in England and Wales for around 30 years. Commenting on the news that MP’s had voted in favour of the new law, Margaret Heathcote, Resolution’s Chair, said: 

“No-fault divorce will ensure more families are able to come to long lasting, amicable and constructive agreements which benefit everyone involved, particularly children.” (ref - Resolution welcomes MP's Support for no fault divorce)

 

For advice regarding divorce, separation, children or financial issues, contact our Family Team.

 

 

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