Government commits to 6 April for no-fault divorce
It has been widely reported in the media this week, including The Times, that the reforms to create a no-fault divorce have been delayed. The government had optimistically planned for the Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Act to be implemented this autumn but has now stated that it will be 6 April 2022.
This will be disappointing to those who may have been waiting until the new reforms were in place before filing a petition for divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. Divorce and dissolution can be one of life’s most stressful events and the current divorce framework does nothing to aid this because of its adversarial approach. The Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Act sets out a better way forward by offering a simplified approach, removing the existing fault-based requirements and allowing a joint application.
It is understood the delay is to allow time for the necessary IT changes to be made to HMCTS’ online divorce systems. The good news is that the 6th April is now fixed as a matter of Parliamentary record, rather than the indicative timetable we had before.
What is the current law?
There is only one ground for divorce – the marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, in the absence of waiting at least two years the petitioner has to lay blame stating that:
- their spouse has committed adultery and they find it intolerable to live with them; or
- their spouse has behaved in such a way that they cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
What will the new law be?
There is no need to attribute blame and either or both of the parties can start the divorce process by simply referring to the marriage having irretrievably broken down. The standard process provides a minimum waiting period of 26 weeks before the marriage is ended.
This should start the divorce process off on the right foot and help reduce costs. It may be tempting to wait but there may be other factors which make it advantageous to divorce now. It is best to take advice now and decide what is right for you.
For further information on any of these issues please contact our specialist family team who will be able to assist you.