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Is no-fault divorce on the horizon?

Divorce - Scissors cutting a marriage certificateThe long-awaited no-fault divorce law is likely to be implemented at some point in the near future following the governments earlier decision to reform the divorce process with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. Many legal experts hold a belief that the current divorce law is out of date, so this reform has been much anticipated since the Act was passed in June 2020 - all that is left is for it to be officially implemented.

What is the current divorce law?

At present, spouses are required to prove to the Court that a marriage has broken down with no chance of reconciliation in order for a divorce to be successfully granted. This means that the spouse who is applying for the divorce must rely on one of the following:

    <liThe other spouse committing adultery, therefore proving it has become intolerable to live with them;
  • The other spouse’s unreasonable behaviour;
  • The other spouse has deserted them for a minimum of two years;
  • Each spouse has lived separately for a minimum of two years with each spouse consenting;
  • Each spouse has lived separately for a minimum of five years, in which case each spouse’s consent is not required.

So, ultimately, current divorce law means that the spouse who is filing for divorce must either be in a position whereby they can assign blame, or they must wait several years while living apart before filing for divorce.

The reform of divorce law

The law surrounding the divorce process changed last year with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, but as previously mentioned, this reform is yet to be officially implemented.

The first movement towards a significant change in divorce law were first made back in 1996 with the introduction of the Family Law Act. The impending changes should hope to continue the evolution of divorce law by removing the damage, anxiety and antagonism that is caused through the current process which forces one spouse to provide a clear reason for the end of a marriage - especially considering many divorced couples must then try to successfully achieve financial superstation and co-parent children.

What will make a no-fault divorce law different?

  • There will no longer be a requirement for one of the five current grounds for divorce to be established;
  • Each spouse will be able to make a joint application for divorce as well as the ability for just one party to make the application;
  • There will be no ability to defend or contest a divorce;
  • A minimum 20-week period will be introduced from the time of application for divorce before the applicant is able to apply for a Conditional Order.

Should I wait before filing for divorce?

You may feel that it is worth waiting for the no-fault divorce law to be implemented before filing for divorce, but it’s important to recognise that although the new law may remove the requirement to apportion blame, there could also be other very important factors or reasons that may affect the timing of an application for divorce. For this reason, it would be in your best interest to seek legal advice so that you can discuss your situation with a professional and reach an informed decision with how you can best move forward.

If you’re searching for legal advice relating to a divorce or any other family law related matter, or would like to discuss any of the other legal services that we offer here at Fonseca Law, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert solicitors. Call us on 01495 303124, e-mail or complete our online contact form.