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Married Couples Gear Up For Change In Divorce Law

by | Apr 29, 2022 | News | 0 comments

Couples who have been having trouble in their marriage for a while might be waiting for the impending change in the divorce law, which will allow them to legally separate without apportioning blame to either party.

When will the new law come in?

From April 6th, changes to the government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 came into effect in England and Wales, meaning couples can go their separate ways without stating adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, or having to wait either two years if both people consent to the divorce or five years if one does not.

The Bill entered parliament two years ago in January 2020, after first being introduced in June 2019. Therefore, those in strained marriages have been waiting a while to go to be able to go ahead with their legal separation if they did not want to partake in the ‘blame game’.

At the time it was introduced, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Robert Buckland said: “Our reforms will stop divorcing couples having to make unnecessary allegations against one another and instead help them focus on separating amicably.”

He said this new law will help remove the “needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives”.


What will the changes mean?

The most important change to the divorce law is that both parties can submit a joint application, without one having to initiate proceedings. This is intended to help the couple dissolve amicably and without one seemingly having the upper hand.

There will also be a minimum cooling off period of 20 weeks after the initial application and before the conditional order. After this, there will be another six weeks before the final order. This is to avoid couples filing for divorce in haste and regretting it later.

As they no longer have to wait two years if they do not apportion blame for adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, this six-month period gives them some time to really commit to their decision, and, if necessary, change their mind before it is too late.

This time also gives them the opportunity to work out amicable practical arrangements, for instance, child custody and division of assets.

Finally, nobody needs to be blamed for the divorce to go ahead, removing the cause for more arguing. What’s more, it eradicates the possibility of contesting the divorce, as a statement from one party is enough to prove the marriage is beyond repair.

It is hoped these changes will make divorce easier for children, as well as their parents, reducing fighting and challenging each other’s behaviour.

“Evidence tells us that parental conflict is damaging to children’s outcomes in life, yet the current fault-based system leads divorcing partners to apportion blame,” said Aidan Jones, chief executive at relationships charity Relate.

He added the changes will “encourage a positive start to the new relationship divorcing couples must form as co-parents”.


What about Scotland?

While the new law will come into effect in England and Wales, couples in Scotland will still have to abide by its current system.

Herald Scotland noted this could lead to more couples north of the border considering applying for a divorce in England instead, if they are more likely to benefit from doing so.


For more information about the new system, contact divorce solicitors in Epsom today.