It was recently announced that on 6th April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force. This new law will allow married couples to divorce without assigning blame and is very welcome news for family law professionals who consider that the current divorce law is no longer fit for purpose and outdated. Many family lawyers have been campaigning for years for change, including Emma Alfieri who campaigned in Parliament for “fault free” divorce in 2016 with family law group Resolution.
The existing law is now over 50 years old (dating back to 1973), and currently couples considering a divorce have two choices. They must either blame the other for the marriage breakdown, citing adultery or unreasonable behaviour which often increases animosity between separating couples or spend a minimum of two years separated.
The introduction of the new law will reform divorce law throughout England & Wales ensuring those considering a divorce will no longer have to apportion blame. This will also mean that couples will be able to apply both jointly, and separately, for a divorce.
The new law is anticipated to encourage a non-confrontational, modern and forward-thinking approach wherever possible. It is hoped this will reduce conflict throughout the divorce process, in particular its damaging effect on children. This follows the recent modernisation from the family courts to obtaining a divorce, which can now be completed online.
Despite the new law being referred to as a “quickie divorce” in the media, the proposed reforms include the introduction of a minimum period of 20 weeks before a divorce can be made final.
What are the benefits of the new law?
What are the benefits of the new law to couples who may be considering a divorce?
- Removes the requirement to provide ‘facts’ or reasons to show that the relationship has irretrievably broken down;
- Introduces the ability for separating couples to apply jointly for divorce;
- Removes the option to contest a divorce;
- Updates outdated terminology, for example a ‘Decree nisi’ will be changed to a ‘Conditional Order’ and a ‘Decree Absolute’ will become a ‘Final Order’;
- Includes a period of 20 weeks minimum from the initial proceedings until a conditional order of divorce has been granted;
When will the law come into force?
On 8th June 2021 ministers announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will come into force on 6th April 2022. A little later than expected, but still welcome news after family law professional have spent many years campaigning for change.
This article is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you are considering a divorce or separation and would like to discuss any of the areas highlighted in this article, please contact Emma on 01284 717459 or firstname.lastname@example.org