Earlier this year, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was passed in parliament, bringing an end to the need to have one spouse blame the other for the breakdown of the marriage in order to obtain a divorce.
This ‘no-fault’ divorce bill represented a significant change to the existing law. After all, the previous blame based requirements had been in place for over 50 years.
But how, in practice, has this changed things for those who wish to end their marriage?
There are essentially 3 main areas of change, which are as follows: -
Allocation of blame
Previously there were five accepted reasons to end a marriage. Two of these made no mention of blame but instead related to a period of time when both parties had separated prior to the request for a divorce. One cited a period of at least two years and required mutual consent and the second – needing no agreement from the other party - required a minimum of 5 years prior separation.
And then there were the more controversial, potentially adversarial, fault-based reasons of Unreasonable Behaviour, Adultery or Desertion (of one party by the other for at least 2 years).
Whilst the old law gave couples a choice between allocating blame or playing a long waiting game, the Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Bill means that they can have their divorce finalised in just 26 weeks.
This much shorter period consists of an initial 20 week period between the start of proceedings and the application for a conditional divorce order, and then a further six weeks to make an application for the final order. It’s believed that this 26 week waiting period allows sufficient time for reflection or perhaps even reconciliation rather than a ‘quickie divorce’ which could attract a significant degree of criticism.
Prior to the introduction of this Bill, it was very much a case of one party making an application against the other, but this condition has also been removed, and both parties are now able to make a joint application for divorce.
It could be argued that last summer’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill did not represent a huge change in legislation, but the effect which it has had has been enormous. No one takes the decision to apply for divorce lightly, and the fact that it can now be done with much less animosity is a huge relief for the couples involved - and the children who need civility and co-operation between their parents.
At EHL Solicitors we understand that everything related to divorce can be difficult, especially when a world-wide pandemic comes along to add pressure to living and childcare arrangements. Our experienced staff are here to help so if you have any concerns or queries, please get in touch with your local branch.
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