In the UK there is only one ground for divorce; the parties have to demonstrate that the relationship has broken down irretrievably. There is a burden on the party applying for divorce to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by relying on one of the following facts:
It is widely regarded that the requirement of one party to blame the other causes divorce proceedings to begin on a potentially acrimonious footing, with one party having to ‘blame’ the other for the marriage breakdown.
Consequently, the government was encouraged to review the way in which couples can divorce and, in February 2019, the concept of a ‘no-fault divorce’ was announced in England and Wales. The introduction of the ‘no-fault divorce’ was planned to be in autumn 2021 but with Brexit and the global pandemic taking centre stage, this has been pushed back until April 2022.
How will no-fault divorce work?
What we know
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which introduces no-fault divorce, will:
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will not change the grounds on which you can divorce i.e. the one ground of divorce will remain as irretrievable breakdown. As is the case currently, there will still remain a 6-week period between the Conditional Order and when the Final Order can be made.
What we do not know
We do not know:
What does this mean for you?
No more of the ‘blame game’ – parties who intend to proceed with an amicable divorce will be given this opportunity from the outset;
Under the current regime, divorce applications rarely conclude prior to the financial arrangements being finalised. The new minimum time frame should not affect proceedings significantly.
The Law Society hopes that the proposed changes should simplify current practices and reduce conflict between couples.
Although the act received Royal Assent in June 2020, the reforms have not yet come into force. The government is still working on implementing the changes. No doubt there will be further amendments and clarifications before the introduction of the new regime which is expected to take place in April 2022.
For a free initial consultation to discuss your options if you are considering filing for divorce, please contact the Family Department on 01264 400500.