No fault divorce
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 makes some very fundamental changes to the laws surrounding divorce.
The Bill received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020 and on 7 June 2021 the Government announced it will come into force on 6 April 2022.
In terms of how this affects divorcing couples it is essentially removing the element of blame or fault which is currently required to satisfy the Court that a marriage has broken down irretrievably.
Concept behind the change in divorce law
The idea is that couples will now be able to focus on the practicalities of bringing their marriages to an end without the idea of blame getting in the way. The perception is generally that the party who is at fault will be penalised when it comes to division of assets or sorting out arrangements for any children. This is generally not the case at the moment but by removing the fault element it removes any unnecessary initial difficulties that may arise between the parties at the start of any divorce proceedings.
The changes should allow separating couples to focus on making good choices for the family as a whole and hopefully moves away from increased animosity and acrimony.
Will the changes mean I will be able to deal with my divorce more quickly?
The short answer is no.
Some of the changes to the current divorce process are as follows:
- You will now be able to make a joint application rather than one party being a petitioner (applicant), although there remains a bar on applying for divorce before you have been married for one year.
- The new divorce process will take 26 weeks (6 months) and it will remain a two-stage process:
- There will be an initial 20-week period between the application being made and confirmation that the conditional order (previously decree nisi) should be made;
- There will still be a period of 6 weeks and the making of a final order (previously decree absolute).
Will the costs change?
At the time of writing the Court fee will remain £550 but this may change. There may be some saving to couples who bring a joint application but issues around finances and division of matrimonial assets will still need to be resolved, which is likely to continue to require the assistance of family lawyers.
The changes to the rules that govern the divorce process are currently still under consultation. However if you are considering whether to wait until April 2022 to progress your divorce please get in touch with Sarah Forster or Gavin Henshaw in our Family Department to discuss your options.
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