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9 April 2019

New legislation announced to overhaul divorce law

Today the government has announced new legislation to overhaul the divorce law in England and Wales. The news means that divorcing couples will be able to have a “fault free divorce” and will no longer need to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage.

The news comes after decades of campaigning by family lawyers for a change to the law. The current law dates back to 1973 and has been shown to exacerbate conflict.

Changes to the existing laws looks to end the “blame game” and establish a minimum six-month timeframe to enable couples to “reflect” on their decision, alongside abolishing the ability to contest a divorce. The new legislation would retain the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce.

The existing law requires evidence of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour. This would be replaced by a requirement for a statement of irretrievable breakdown. The new laws would retain the current two-stage legal process which includes the decree nisi and decree absolute. It would also include the option to submit a joint application for divorce.

Emma Alfieri from our family team, campaigned at Parliament with family law group Resolution back in 2016 in the quest for “fault free divorce”.

Emma said that “today marks a landmark day for family lawyers across the country. The changes to the law will spare couples emotional stress by allowing them to  divorce more amicably without having to find blame against the other party.  Divorcing amicably without blame will also have a less damaging impact on any children and allow parents to co-parent with dignity going forward”.

For more information regarding separating from your partner, please contact our Family Law Team.

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