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    18 June 2020

    Will Marriage Survive the New No-Fault Divorce Law?

    Family law solicitors across the country celebrated as no-fault divorce has been given the green light meaning from early autumn 2021 separating couples will be able to divorce without having to apportion blame to the other party. The accusations of adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour will no longer be necessary.

    Many have campaigned for no-fault divorce and this legislation for more than three decades. The current law came into force in 1973 and is certainly due for an overhaul but some worry marriage will be undermined by the availability of an easy or ‘quickie’ divorce. The vote in the House of Commons earlier this month was decisive at 231 in favour and only 16 against. But do those 16 have a genuine reason for concern?

    From 2021 the new provisions will allow a no-fault petition, but the parties will still have to wait. The proposed reforms suggest a minimum period of 20 weeks before a divorce can be made final. Time to rethink, cool off and have a change of mind if couples wish to reconsider.

    My experience as a family lawyer over three decades is that couples rarely rush to divorce. Often, they have had a period of many months or even years of trying to mend a failing marriage sometimes with the assistance of family counselling or marriage guidance. Parents generally try extremely hard to keep their marriage on track for the benefit of young children and do not want to bring up their family from separate households. I think it unlikely that the new legislation will change this behaviour or attitude towards divorce.

    Time, of course, will tell. If there is a flood of fresh petitions in the autumn of 2021 then perhaps concerns about undermining marriage may be provided correct. Personally, I think it is unlikely. It is time for couples who do find their marriages are failing to be able to separate and divorce amicably and not start off a difficult and emotional process on the wrong foot by casting blame on their ex-spouse to be.

    The Family Law team has been sharing, legal updates and industry insights following the #NoFaultDivorce journey. See the news page links below for more information:

    17 January 2020 – The end of the “Blame Game”

    10 July 2019 – Fault Free Divorce – an Update

    9 April 2019 – New legislation announced to overhaul divorce law

    If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in our No Fault Divorce article or you would like to discuss separating from your spouse, our specialist Family lawyer will be able to advise you how to protect yourself and your family for the future, please contact Sally Harris or Sally Briggs in the Steeles Law family team who will be happy to help you via email using family@steeleslaw.co.uk or by calling 01603 598000.

    *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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