No Fault Divorce

Change is Coming To Divorce Law

Divorce laws in England and Wales are soon to undergo significant change that will usher in the era of the ‘no-fault divorce’. The changes look to lift some restrictive rules that can create conflict between divorcing couples and have a negative impact on the welfare of children.

Following a consultation by the Ministry of Justice in 2018, the Government has published its response and in April 2019 has confirmed it will go ahead with planned changes by introducing new legislation. The changes represent the biggest reform of divorce law for fifty years and are designed to shift the emphasis from ‘blame’, to one of resolution, in support of a more amicable process for families and especially children of divorcing parents.

Significant Differences in the Proposed New Legislation

A couple or one party to the marriage would need to notify the court that their marriage had broken down irretrievably - however, the five grounds for divorce that are presently stated in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, namely, adultery; desertion; unreasonable behaviour; separation for 2 years with consent or separation for 5 years without it, will not apply. Instead, it is proposed there be a requirement for a statement of irretrievable breakdown.

Other proposed changes include:

  • allowing couples to jointly give notice

  • allowing joint applications to become sole applications (and vice versa)

  • removing the ability for one person to contest a divorce

  • retaining the two-stage process of decree nisi and decree absolute

  • introducing a minimum timeframe of six months from the divorce petition to the decree absolute (in order to give separating couples sufficient time to reflect on their decision to end the marriage) and withn that timeframe, retain the minimum six week period between decree nisi and decree absolute

  • an update and modernisation of the language used in the process to make it more inclusive and comprehensible to those going through the process

These changes would also apply to the dissolution of civil partnerships.

Timing

If you’re going through the process of divorce right now, you may be wondering if, how and when these changes could apply to you. Whilst change is certain, the timeframe is less so. Officially, the Ministry of Justice said new legislation would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. As the change in legislation is introduced, we’ll update you on what this means for divorcing couples and what impact it will have on their process.

If you’d like to know more about the present legislation around divorce, please see our blog post on The Current Process of Divorce.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting with one of our team to discuss your divorce and specific circumstances, please call us on 01622 815940 or contact enquiries@antonyclapp.co.uk