After Passing the Commons – No-Fault Divorce to Become Law
There has been a huge advancement in no-fault divorce becoming law in the UK as The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has passed its way through the commons. This is good news for those who were campaigning and fighting for changes to the law but a blow to those who opposed the new Bill coming into force. The people that wanted this legislation to be introduced however will have to wait until Autumn of 2021 for the new rules to be in place. The only thing that is stopping the Bill from being passed as law are the House of Lords’ Amendments that may take place. Should there be no amendments required – the Bill will be passed for Royal assent.
However – the reason that the Bill is not being implemented immediately was explained by Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland – who announced that the reforms will need time to be allowed ‘for careful implementation.’ So how have these been received and what is set to change when the Bill finally becomes law in Autumn 2021?
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No-Fault Divorce – A Quick Recap
With current divorce laws, critics often coin that the ‘blame game’ is used when trying to prove one of the 5 facts that indicate or prove the irreversible breakdown of a marriage. These are ‘unreasonable behaviour’, adultery, desertion, 2 years’ separation should the other partner agree and 5 years’ separation if they do not. This causes those who do not want to blame the other for the breakdown of a marriage a minimum of 2 years and if the other spouse does not agree – they can become ‘trapped’ for 5 years before the divorce process can be finalised.
This is why supporters of No-Fault Divorce want the Bill to be pushed through and made into law – and they will be very happy with recent developments. They aim to end the ‘blame game’ that is sometimes caused by the fact that you have to prove unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion as ‘faster’ ways to end a divorce.
Critics of the No-Fault Divorce reform say that it affects the ‘sanctity’ of marriage and makes it easier to arrange for a divorce. Other critics question reflection time which leaves less time to arrange for important matters such as finances or arrangements involving children. Other systems have a period of time in which parties reflect on the decision of making a divorce before it starts whereas the new system in the UK will have a reflective period after the divorce begins.
What Other Significant Changes Will be Introduced?
The irretrievable breakdown of a relationship as the sole reason as grounds for a divorce. However, having to establish one or more of the facts listed above will be completely removed – the first time divorce has been reformed for over 50 years. There will also be updates to the language that is used during the divorce process, the Decree Absolute being renamed to the Final Order for example. Joint applications will now be able to be made once the law is introduced which allows both parties to confirm that they wish to proceed with divorce as their marriage has broken down.
The ability to contest a divorce, separation or dissolution which is designed to avoid court which will save considerable time, costs and stress should one of the parties aim to delay the divorce process. The new time scale establishes a 6 month period for the divorce to finalise to allow time to consider whether separation is truly the appropriate option. As previously mentioned, this period starts when the divorce process has begun. During the 6 month period, decisions must be made in terms of financial agreements as well as other arrangements such as other important arrangements such as maintenance payments if required and arrangements regarding the children.
Preparing for the Changes to The Law
As the changes in the law aren’t going to be fully introduced until at least Autumn 2021, it’s generally advised to proceed with the divorce process should you be facing the divorce process. Although some argue that the current system is proficient as it currently is in its current form with others pushing for specific changes to be introduced – this is the process that will have to be followed currently. For the full divorce process, we highly recommend that you visit the government guidelines which discusses all of the various processes that currently have to be followed.
Getting Advice When Facing a Divorce
There are various sources of information that are designed to support you when you are facing, considering or are in the process of a divorce. Seeking support or advice is highly important as divorce can be an understandably distressing and difficult time for you and your family. With a lot of change on the way after the divorce as well as the way that families interact and operate – it’s important to try and reach amicable decisions when finalising the divorce but this is not always the case. This is why it’s therefore highly recommended to get in touch with a highly experienced family law solicitor.
Mediation is also an option that can be offered if you are unable to make amicable decisions in certain cases. It’s important to bear in mind that if it is not safe or constructive to arrange for mediation – this will not be a viable option. Mediation is key in some cases as it allows both parties to reach amicable decisions.
Hurlows Family Law Practice is a valued and respected Firm of Solicitors which has been serving the Cardiff and South Wales area since 2001.