‘Quickie Divorces’ to be Scrapped in Government Legislation
This article is an update on our coverage of the Government’s proposed changes to the Divorce Reform Act. You can find the other articles that we have written in regards to this legislation following the links below:
A new update has been revealed in the Government’s proposal to end the ‘Blame Game’ in divorce which is aimed to update divorce legislation. In our previous articles – we discussed how this law is set to update and change certain rules regarding divorce and change the way in which divorces can be justified in the legal system. The new system is designed to change the way in which divorces can be initiated – citing no fault as the reason as to a divorce taking place rather than having to find fault in another party to begin the divorce process.
The legislation however is now being accused of trying to push forwards a “hidden bombshell” as described by lawyers due to the fact that the legislation will change the time period before the dissolving of a marriage. Whether this will affect the divorce process drastically or change the way in which divorces are to be approached remains to be seen.
What is a ‘Quickie Divorce’?
A Quickie Divorce is a phrase coined by the company Quickie Divorce who propose that they can offer fast divorce services. This is a service that is designed to serve the relevant papers and proceed with the divorce process without using legal advice. Lawyers and legal professionals are often in agreement that quickie divorces are something that should be avoided for the following major reasons:
- You may need to reach agreements regarding finances and the children. You will more often than not require legal advice and the representation of a family law solicitor to reach a fair agreement and agree what is best for the children.
- The minimum period of marriage before a divorce can be pursued is one year after a marriage has taken place. There is no avoiding this period however papers and documents can be drafted ready for when one year of marriage is reached.
- Establishing grounds for divorce using the current system can be difficult – especially if a divorce is not on amicable grounds. Having a legal representative to support you can help reach agreements and prevent a bitter or acrimonious divorce.
- The divorce process itself is not a fast process therefore it is argued that it is somewhat false to say that finalising a divorce is quick. Filing a divorce petition takes approximately 6 weeks with the application for a Decree Nisi taking 8 weeks and the Decree Absolute taking 6 weeks and 1 day after the Nisi is received. The divorce is finalised after approximately 2 weeks therefore it takes 17 weeks and 1 day from the start of the divorce process. This can also be extended if agreements cannot be reached regarding finances, children and other matters.
What are the Changes in the New Law?
The new law states that couples will have to wait at least 6 months before dissolving their marriage. Theoretically – a divorce can be granted within 6 weeks of an application but the new law will amend this to at least 26 weeks. A minimum period of 20 weeks will be imposed before a conditional Decree Nisi is granted with another six weeks passing before the decree absolute. This will likely see a significant extension to the amount of time it takes to arrange for and complete the divorce process.
What Has Caused the Legislation to Progress?
The deadlock caused by Theresa May’s Minority Government as well as the domination by discussions and votes on Brexit meant that the changes in legislation were delayed / took a lower priority. With the recently elected Majority Government – the Bill is expected to come into play in the very near future. With the adoption of the latest Bill (now that it is known that the 6 month period before dissolving of a marriage) will this aim to end the potential acrimony of divorce or will this make the divorce process more acrimonious?
Time Required to Reach Decisions in the Divorce Process
As previously touched upon – the divorce process being fast can be somewhat rare. A divorce in which financial arrangements are limited (due to a prenuptial agreement for example) and no children may see a fairly fast divorce process. However – this therefore means in this instance that the proposed changes to the law would make this type of divorce longer – as the minimum period for dissolution will be 6 months.
For divorces in which detailed agreements will need to be reached – the increased amount of time before a divorce can be dissolved will likely aid in these cases. This will result in the services of family law solicitors likely being more important as there will be an extended period of time in which decisions will need to be made regarding finances and the children.
Mediation With the New Bill in Force
Although the ideal scenario is that no-fault divorce will make the divorce process more amicable, some divorces may be an acrimonious process. Should decisions be difficult to reach – mediation can be a viable option. Although mediation may not always be appropriate – mediation is likely to become more important when reaching decisions over this new 6 month timeframe. The advice and support of a mediator allows for a 3rd party to offer an impartial opinion – decisions being made during the mediation process are also able to be written up and brought forward in court.
The end to the ‘blame-game’ in divorce may make some divorces easier and the process smoother. However – critics are arguing that some will be stuck in the middle or find that the divorce process being longer may make the process acrimonious as a result.
It will be interesting to see the effects of these reforms when they come into force via The Government. With some divorces – the end to assigning blame may make the process smoother and defer acrimony in order to reach amicable decisions regarding finances, children and life after the divorce has taken place. Some may find that the divorce process will now become a lengthy process – in which there is more opportunity for both parties to clash when making decisions on their life after a divorce.
When the law comes into force – many will be looking at the effects that this has on the divorce process as well as what changes after these changes have been implemented. Whether or not these changes will have a significant impact remains to be seen.
Hurlows Family Law Practice is a valued and respected Firm of Solicitors which has been serving the Cardiff and South Wales area since 2001.