The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has received Royal Assent. The Act introduces the concept of no fault divorce and brings the UK’s divorce laws into the 21st Century. It is important to highlight though that this Act doesn't change anything about the way in which finances or issues about children are dealt with. It only alters the paperwork process of how a divorce petition is processed by the court.
The current law on divorce dates back to 1973 and states that when filing a divorce petition there is only one ground for a divorce and that is that "the marriage has irretrievably broken down". Currently however, irretrievable breakdown has to be supported by one of five facts. Only two of those facts enable a divorce petition to be issued immediately and those are “adultery” and “unreasonable behaviour” . Both of those facts require an element of blame from one party to the other.
Following the introduction of the new Act, a party wishing to proceed with a divorce will still need to declare that the marriage has irretrievably broken down but it will no longer be necessary to blame the other party in any way. It will simply be necessary to give a statement to the court confirming the marriage has irretrievably broken down and the court are obliged to accept that statement.
There will be then be a minimum 20 week period from the date that the divorce petition has been issued to the date of the Conditional Order (now known as decree nisi) and the six week period from that Conditional Order to Final Order (now known as decree absolute) will still apply. Therefore there will be a minimum time period of 26 weeks before a divorce can be finalised. The Act is expected to come into force in the Autumn of 2021.
Freeths LLP have a team of specialist family lawyers and we are able to provide advice and assistance on all aspects of family law, always ensuring the matters are dealt with as amicably and as cost effectively as possible.
Should you wish to contact us to discuss any family law related issue please call Head of the Team, Rachael Oakes, in the first instance on 07972 753265.
Hopefully this will now bring the UK more in line with other countries.