The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2020 (or the "No-Fault" Divorce Bill), became an Act of Parliament on 25th June 2020. Resolution campaigned extensively for the Bill, with widespread support from family law professionals.
The new Bill should help to minimise conflict between divorcing couples from the outset and encourage constructive negotiations by removing the requirement for blame to obtain a divorce. Under present law, to avoid the 'blame' factors in divorce, parties must be separated for at least two years, and if one party refuses to consent to divorce this period is extended to five years.
Even for those who amicably agree to separate, all couples are forced to rely on one of three blame factors to divorce before the 2-year period, these being either unreasonable behaviour, adultery, or desertion. Unfortunately, this can cause people to make significant allegations against the other to satisfy the Court; the criteria for divorce are met.
It's anticipated these long-awaited changes will allow for a swifter and smoother start to divorce proceedings, which should encourage cooperation between parties. Acrimonious divorce is known to have a significantly harmful impact on children, and it reduces the chances of parties being able to reach a financial settlement outside of Court. The Bill has been praised for recognising modern attitudes to marriage, respecting party autonomy, and reducing appetite for conflict on relationship breakdown.
Under the new rules, either party will be able to apply to the Court to initiate divorce proceedings. The Court will then require them to wait for a 20-week period before they are able to confirm if they still wish to divorce. At this point, the Court will make a conditional order. Then six weeks later, the party can apply for the order to become final. There is no behaviour threshold to be met, and consent from your partner is not required.
The Bill will apply equally to civil partners and those seeking judicial separation.
Although the Bill has been approved, it is not expected to become implemented in law until Autumn 2021. For those couples looking to divorce now, it will still be advised for most to proceed with issuing divorce proceedings rather than waiting for the changes to come into practice.
For anyone considering divorce, contact our expert family law team today for confidential and comprehensive advice on 0161 941 4000 or e-mail email@example.com.