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Introducing the ‘No-Fault’ Divorce



The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is set to become reality after it received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020 as the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. So if you are considering divorce, what are the benefits for you and is it worth waiting for the new law to come into effect?

Why did the existing divorce system need replacing?

The existing system in England and Wales required one spouse to file for divorce and, in the process, make an accusation about the other’s conduct, choosing from one of three reasons – adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

If unable to cite one of these reasons for divorce, a couple faced two years of living apart in a ‘separation’ period before the marriage can be legally dissolved, even if the decision is mutual.

If one partner contested the divorce then this ‘separation’ period had to be a minimum of five years before they’ll be considered eligible for divorce.

Fundamentally the system had been designed to dissuade couples from divorcing by forcing one spouse to blame the other and provide evidence of guilt.

How will the new ‘no-fault’ divorce change the system?

The passing of the ‘no-fault divorce’ Bill is a landmark legal change, reforming an area of family law that was out of step with today’s society.

Removing the element of blame from the initial part of the divorce process will reduce the possibility of animosity and set a more positive tone for future discussions on substantive issues such as child arrangements, finance and splitting assets.

Importantly, the Act closes a loophole that has been misused by abusers looking to coerce or control their spouse.

Is it worth waiting for a ‘no-fault’ divorce?

The Bill may now be law but there will need to be some changes to rules, procedures and court forms so it is far from clear when its provisions will come into effect. The best guess is that the earliest we can expect to finally have a no-fault divorce is early next year in 2021.

Whether someone is able to wait or not depends upon the circumstances of their marriage breakdown and while there maybe benefits to waiting, if you are considering commencing divorce proceedings, seeking advice now will help you determine the right course of action for you.

Please get in touch today if you would like to speak to our experts. Contact Simon walker on 01935 813 691 or email simon.walker@mogersdrewett.com.