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    9 June 2021

    No fault divorce delayed until 2022

    It was announced on Monday, 7th June, in response to a parliamentary question, that couples seeking a no-fault divorce under the new legislation will have to wait until 2022. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act will now come into force on 6th April 2022, not the Autumn as the government had originally planned.

    Despite the ‘no fault divorce’ legislation being passed almost a year ago, the courts minister, Chris Philip MP said that this year’s target was “ambitious” and pointed out that the act provides for the biggest reform of divorce law in 50 years. The date has been pushed back to allow time for the necessary IT changes to be made to HMCTS’s online divorce systems. The government accept that whilst the delay is unfortunate, they do not want to rush things through, and they must get it right.

    What will the new law look like? 

    The new law will replace the current law which requires one party to rely upon the conduct of the other such as adultery, “unreasonable behaviour” or proof of separation. It is hoped that this will remove the need for the needless “blame game” which inevitably increases conflict and acrimony between the parties. Instead, a simple statement will need to be made confirming the breakdown of the marriage. Couples can do this jointly if they wish.

    It will remove the possibility of contesting the divorce as the statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

    There will be a minimum 20-week time period introduced, meaning that 20 weeks must elapse from when the divorce application is filed with the Court before parties can apply for a Conditional Order (what we currently know as the Decree Nisi). It is hoped it will allow the parties time to reflect on their decision to end their marriage. It will also allow parties time to consider the family finances.

    The new law (when it does come into force) should make the divorce process simpler and should remove some of the animosity.

    Here at Steeles, our family lawyers are Resolution members. This means that we are committed to promoting a constructive approach to family issues that consider the needs of the whole family. We welcome the changes to the law, even if it is a little later than we had hoped for! However, we agree it is important that that the changes are not rushed so the implementation can be as smooth as possible. Divorce is hard enough for many couples without adding in having to apportion blame. We see first-hand the emotional cost of acrimonious divorce proceedings and it has got to be a good thing to try and reduce that.

    How can the Steeles Law Family team help you?

    If you would like to speak to a member of the family law team to discuss any of the points raised in our ‘no fault divorce’ update, please call 01603 598000, email using family@steeleslaw.co.uk or using the live chat function via the website.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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