But when is this new divorce law likely to come into force? And how could this divorce law affect your divorce? We take a closer look…
Under current divorce law, you must prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by providing one (or more) of five reasons or ‘facts’ (also known as grounds for divorce).
The five ‘facts’ under current divorce law are:
• Unreasonable behaviour (this is the most frequently cited reason for divorce)
• 2 years’ separation (with consent from the other spouse)
• 5 years’ separation (no consent necessary)
Many critics of current system of divorce law in England and Wales believe that the main problem lies in the fact that there is no option for a ‘no-fault’ divorce, unless you are willing to wait at least 2 years. Indeed, this 2-year wait is often not viable, as many people won’t be able to afford to pay for two separate households before dealing with their financial settlement upon divorce.
The requirement under current divorce law for blame, many argue, unnecessarily increases hostility and conflict between divorcing couples, which can be especially damaging when children are involved.
The Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Bill has already passed through two readings in the House of Commons and was introduced to the House of Lords at the start of January this year (2020).
This new divorce law will introduce ‘no-fault’ divorce in England and Wales, resulting in substantial changes to the divorce process. Under current divorce law, divorcing couples can spend a great deal of precious time and energy fighting over blame. In the future, when this new divorce law comes into force, the blame game, legally at least, should no longer be necessary.
New divorce law will mean that instead of having to attribute blame, a couple who want a divorce will simply be able to cite ‘irretrievable breakdown’ as the reason for their divorce.
No evidence about ‘bad’ behaviour will be necessary. In fact, it will be possible to submit a statement jointly, rather than just one person petitioning for divorce (it will also be possible for one party to do so, too).
What’s more, the new divorce law will stop one spouse contesting a divorce if the other wants one. Something which the government admits has, in some cases, “allowed domestic abusers to exercise further coercive control over their victim”.
After the new divorce law comes into force, there will be no need to attribute blame for the breakdown of your marriage.
This should hopefully help to reduce conflict, or at least not add to it, during the divorce process.
With regards to timescales for the new divorce law, it’s difficult to say. For many people, it will be a matter of the sooner, the better.
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