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No Fault Divorce – Due to Commence in Late 2021

As the law in England and Wales currently stands, if two spouses wish to divorce prior to being separated for two years, then it is necessary for one to allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour against the other. The inevitable result is that either (a) one party makes allegations against the other, often causing increased animosity between the parties (which can impact on reaching an amicable resolution on the children and financial matters), or (b) both parties have to wait until they have been separated for two years before even commencing divorce proceedings preventing them from moving on with their lives.

 

Given the above situation, a change in the divorce laws allowing for a ‘no fault’ divorce has long been campaigned for. The general consensus amongst legal professionals has been that if a marriage has irretrievably broken down and both parties wish to divorce, they should be permitted to without requiring them to wait for two years separation, or requiring one of the parties to effectively blame the other for the marriage breakdown.

 

On 9 June 2020 a bill introducing the prospect of ‘no fault’ divorces was finally placed before parliament and overwhelmingly backed by MP’s by 231 votes to 16 votes. The bill has since cleared the final stages of parliamentary scrutiny in the House of Commons and will return to the House of Lords where it is expected to receive Royal Assent and subsequently become law. As it is envisaged that sufficient time will be needed for careful implementation however, it is understood that it will be at least the Autumn of 2021 before ‘no fault’ divorce comes into force.

 

As solicitors, we have seen the negative impact that the outdated divorce laws can have on divorcing couples and their families. As members of the organisation Resolution, we are committed to a constructive approach to family issues, and we consider the change to the divorce laws to be a very positive step, which has been a long time coming. Given that there is not yet any implementation date, however, it must be acknowledged that further delays are possible. Any individuals who are currently considering getting a divorce are therefore likely to benefit from independent legal advice regarding the current situation and the options available to them.

 

 

No Fault Divorce – Due to Commence in Late 2021

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