D-day announced for No Fault Divorce
On 7 June Ministers announced that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (introducing the ever-awaited arrival of ‘no fault divorce’) will come into force on 6 April 2022. The date is later than expected with previous suggestions being Autumn 2021.
It is almost a year now since legislation was first passed on 25 June 2020 after years of campaigning. However, such confirmation now provides family solicitors with a solid roadmap to work towards this and allows us to appropriately advise our clients on this option.
At present the law is very black and white, leading to a position where, unless there has been a period of separation of at least two years, parties have to make allegations of either unreasonable behaviour or adultery to obtain a divorce. However, this black and white approach is not representative of current social norms and does not cater for couples who simply fall out of love with each other and no longer wish to be married, without waiting for a lengthy period after separation.
Currently, ‘no-fault’ applications already account for a large proportion of divorce petitions each year. However, the law only allows for no-fault divorces to be brought after two years of separation, if both parties agree, or five years of separation, if one party will not agree. The new act will change that.
With some divorces in England and Wales now being dealt with via the courts’ online digital service, the Government are committed to ensuring that the amended digital service allows for a smooth transition from the existing service which has already reformed the way divorce is administered in the courts. We are hopeful this will continue to improve the service received by our clients at a difficult time in their lives.
The new law will remove the time restraints attached to divorce applications and will include a ‘cooling off’ period to allow each party time for reflection (allowing them to change their minds if they wish).
We welcome the move to a more digitalised divorce procedure and the removal of the requirement to blame the other party to obtain a divorce, which hopefully will enable more divorces to be conducted amicably in the future.