On Wednesday 6 April 2022 the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into force, bringing with it a new blame-free divorce procedure.
For the best part of 50 years, it was necessary for couples wanting to end their marriage to accuse their spouse of adultery or desertion, go into detail about their behaviour or be separated from them for a minimum number of years before they could go ahead; thus making the whole divorce process more difficult and contentious from the outset.
Thankfully, this will no longer be necessary, and the only reason an applicant needs to give is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
This change aims to reduce conflict, and it will enable us to help our clients resolve the issues that are important to them, such as the financial settlement or the care of their children, without time and costs being taken up with unhelpful arguments about what has been said in the divorce petition (or “application” as it is now called) and without the acrimony caused by the blaming and criticising that made couples less able to reach agreement.
It is hoped that what is already a stressful and uncertain time will now be more bearable as a result.
To add to the spirit of consensus, the new procedure allows for the application to be made by both parties to the marriage or the civil partnership, if they wish, rather than just one of them. This will hopefully reduce animosity, demonstrate that it is a joint decision and reduce any lack of co-operation.
Any concerns that all this might mean that it is now too quick and easy to end a marriage have been addressed. There will be a minimum of 20 weeks between the start of the process and the granting of the initial, conditional order and then at least 6 weeks between that conditional order and the making of the final order.
We are able to continue to represent our divorce and dissolution clients using an online portal (which has proved to be slicker and more efficient than the old paper applications) and help them through the new rules and procedures to achieve the right outcome for them.
If you are going through, or considering, a separation and would like some help or advice, please call our Family Department on 01892 824577 for a free, no obligation, confidential 30 minute consultation with a family solicitor.