Over 25 years after proposed legislation to end the requirement to provide evidence of “conduct” or “separation facts” the fundamental new changes to current divorce laws will finally come into effect as from the 6th April 2022.
The changes are the most significant for 50 years and for the first time will require people to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown of marriage or civil partnership or to obtain a judicial separation.
Sweeping provisions are to be introduced under the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. The new law will remove the requirement to assign blame, by allowing one party, or indeed the couple jointly together to make a statement of irretrievable breakdown. No other evidence will be required beyond this statement.
So, What is New Under the New Provisions?
- For the first time couples can make a joint application for divorce, dissolution and separation by making a joint statement of irretrievable breakdown.
- No longer will couples be required to provide evidence based on conduct such as behaviour adultery or desertion.
- The introduction of a new minimum overall timeframe of six months between the start of the proceedings and when an application can be made for the Order to be final.
- The removal of the ability to defend the decision to divorce, or to end the civil partnership.
- Updating legal language used for divorce to in turn simplify the processes for couples.
The fundamental aim of the reforms is to reduce the impact that conflict and allegations of blame can have upon families, and in particular on any children.
In addition, it will also limit the ability of one party to challenge a divorce, which in some cases currently, can be used as a tool to exercise coercive control.
The introduction of the six month period before proceedings can be concluded, provides the couple with a meaningful period of reflection, and to ensure the right decision is being taken for them.
The changes are widely welcomed by family lawyers and mediators alike and have been campaigned for many years.
“For too long the current law has been out of kilts with the need to avoid conflict wherever possible arising from separation, given the proven detrimental impact to both the couple and in particular any children. Instead, the law has encouraged parties to blame each other at a time they crucially need to work together in the best interests of their families.
Too often we have seen couples who have been able to work constructively through all issues arising from separation, making plans for their children and financial matters, only to be placed with the conundrum of having to then in turn blame each other within divorce proceedings. It makes no sense and is undoubtedly damaging.
It will be much easier after the introduction of the new law for couples to be able to work together collaboratively to resolve issues that arise on separation, as opposed to being involved in the blame game. This is very much a welcome step” says Karen Beevers, Partner @ Evans Derry Solicitors
When Do the Changes Take Place?
The new law will come into effect as from the 6th April 2022 and will apply to all proceedings issued after that date. The current law will continue in respect of all proceedings issued by the Court on or before the 5th April 2022.
For further information or advice please contact:-
Karen Beevers is a specialist Collaborative family Solicitor, Accredited family Mediator and Partner working in family law for over 20 years. Evans Derry have offices at Coleshill, Marston Green and Atherstone see www.evansderry.com