No-Fault Divorce Update: Making Divorce as Amicable as Possible
6th Jul 2021
Let’s be honest, divorce is something that none of us really wants to think about. It is something that happens to other people, not to you and your spouse. But what if the unthinkable does happen? How do you cope with everything, while dealing with the legal aspects of a divorce when you know relatively little about the process or how long it will take?
The Government has been asking this very question and has come up with a number of changes to matrimonial law to make divorce as amicable as possible for both parties.
In June 2020, the Government announced that, after a long period of consultation, there would be new laws put in place to ease the process for couples seeking to divorce. It was widely believed that the legal system surrounding divorce and separation was out of date. If sympathetically revised, then the risk of acrimonious separations and protracted legal battles between partners could be minimised.
In implementing a no-fault divorce framework, greater emphasis would be placed upon resolving a couple’s future arrangements. This should lead to improved settlements with regard to access to children, and the financial elements of the process. Wording in the legislation would be simplified and would use ‘Plain English’ to describe the stages of the divorce, eliminating much of the historical confusion.
The existing legislation required a specified reason for a marriage to be dissolved. These included adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour. However, with the newly revised legislation, the notion of assigning fault is to be removed, as is the clause regarding a five year wait. With the procedure simplified, solicitors and the couples they advise will be able to focus on the practical aspects of the divorce and family separation, removing the often onerous task of proving or agreeing which of the parties was at fault.
It has now been announced that this new legislation shall come into force in April 2022, as it required a lead-in period during which solicitors, parties to the process and the courts are given time to adjust to the new legislation.
If you are considering divorce and have exhausted all other options with your spouse such as counselling and reconciliation, then your next step may be to consult a solicitor who specialises in family law. They will be able to give you a better idea as to how to initiate the process, factors you need to consider and how long the process may take.
Many solicitors offer an initial consultation before you take this first step so that they can understand your situation more clearly, and advise you accordingly. This is clearly a big decision for anyone and requires considerable thought and the advice of an experienced professional.
This long-overdue revision of the divorce legislation has been welcomed by many legal firms and by the Law Society. It is hoped that by encouraging an atmosphere of cooperation between couples and removing the need to find fault in the breakdown of a marriage, an inherently stressful process will become less acrimonious.
This should enable couples to undertake the process in an atmosphere of resolution and with a sense of moving forward – particularly where the family has the future care and welfare of children to consider. Updated and compassionate divorce and separation laws will help families to create a new reality for themselves and their children and, as such, have been widely welcomed.
If you require any information or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact Victoria Richardson at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org