According to recent statistics, around 42 per cent of marriages in the United Kingdom will end in divorce. The divorce laws that largely govern the process have evolved over time as society’s moral standards and expectations have shifted.
Over the last few decades, lawmakers have sought to establish a method for divorce that helps to reduce the emotional trauma on both parties and their dependents while yet preserving marriage as a legal institution.
For the previous three decades, the debate has revolved around the practicalities and consequences of introducing a so-called “no-fault divorce.” Previous attempts at change made divorce more accessible, but they failed to address the need for blame to be assigned to one or both parties for the marriage’s failure.
The most recent modifications, which addressed long-standing objections to the no-fault divorce principle, were finally successful.
What are the current divorce procedures in your state?
Traditionally, divorce proceedings have been based on blame. No-fault divorce, as the name implies, does away with the need to show that one spouse is culpable for the breakup.
A petitioner in a divorce case in England and Wales must demonstrate that the marriage has broken down irretrievably before the date on which the divorce is sought (known as Service E).
Adultery, Insensitivity, Unreasonable Behavior, Desertion, and 2 Years or More Separation with the Agreement of Both Parties are Allowed. 5 Years Without the Agreement of Both Partners is Not Permitted. The introduction of the new legislation has removed the need for parties to offer further evidence or support their claims.
When will no-fault divorces become law in the UK?
The Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act received Royal Assent on June 25th, 2020, and will take effect on April 6th, 2022. It tries to address some of the issues that the previous legislation created. Because the legislation eliminates the requirement that one of the couples apportion responsibility for the relationship break-down on the other to obtain a divorce, it has been dubbed the “no-fault” law.
The modernized divorce laws are perhaps the most significant changes to family law in England and Wales for 50 years. It is expected and hoped that the bill will have a beneficial influence on how divorce cases are handled. The changes are designed to reduce the amount of marital or civil partnership conflict in England and Wales. The new legislation was developed through extensive public input and close collaboration between the Ministry of Justice and the Family Procedure Rule Committee.
It was originally scheduled to come into force in the autumn of 2021, but it has been delayed. This is so that HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s online divorce portal may be updated to handle the new system properly.
Why has the law been changed?
After decades of debate and campaigning, the bill was introduced in the House of Commons in June 2019 following a months-long public consultation. The new legislation reflects many people’s views and represents a step forward in terms of divorce procedure law for the 21st century.
This mechanism will eliminate the need for one of the spouses wanting a divorce to assign blame to the other. It’s hoped that this will make the process more amicable, encourage discussion and resolution while cutting down on any potential negative effects of conflict on children or other dependents.
It’s been said that the existing divorce laws encourage bitterness by requiring a spouse to demonstrate outrageous behaviour, abandonment, or adultery in order for a divorce to be granted without the requirement of waiting. If the other spouse gives their consent, this time is now two years, rising to five years if they don’t agree. A spouse or partner who believes they have just cause for divorce may submit a request for legal separation, and the court will automatically grant it. This has handed the timing of a divorce to one or both spouses who might withhold their consent if they believe they have justification. This can have a variety of financial and personal consequences, making it tough for the other
How will no-fault divorces work?
The divorce procedure will be largely the same. Unless it is submitted jointly, the first step is to file a divorce petition and deliver a copy to the Respondent. The application, together with an affidavit from the applicant(s) stating that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, will be delivered to the court after it has been completed
The fee to present a petition to the High Court is £592.00 as of April 2015. Unless both services are requested at the same time, they will not be required; therefore, the Respondent will submit an Acknowledgement of Service.
The petition may no longer be defended; therefore the Court will issue a conditionally divorced decree nisi after at least 20 weeks have passed since the petition was filed if the applicants confirm that they want to go through with it. The petitioner can then apply for a final divorce order (previously decree absolute) after another 6 weeks and 1 day.
What are the arguments against the law change?
For many years, lawmakers have been hesitant to update divorce statutes in accordance with a no-fault approach. Despite the fact that this appears to be a natural development, it has been opposed particularly by conservatives who are concerned about the sanctity of marriage.
With no-fault divorce on the verge of becoming law, these issues continue to be raised. Some people believe that if divorce is made too simple, couples will move faster toward divorce, making them less likely to work out their issues. Campaigners have highlighted the emotional toll of divorce, especially for children, and recommend that more money be allocated towards
Another concern is regarding relationships where one partner has been violent, emotionally controlling or unfaithful. The other partner may feel that blame in these instances should be recognized, and if the system does not recognize that fact, then an injustice has been carried out. This may make it difficult for them to move on.
Are these worries well-founded, and what do qualify legal professionals think of these changes?
What do family lawyers think about the law change?
The changes are the result of years of public and professional debate, which has been going on for decades. There has been broad agreement that the current system is insufficient in assisting separating couples while also making divorce less probable.
The changes are aimed at recognizing that even with the best intentions, many marriages will fail. It’s crucial to minimize the emotional damage when they do fail, especially in terms of children. The modifications are designed to assist individuals in moving on with their lives by eliminating any potential disputes and arranging for a peaceful break-up.
On balance, family lawyers such as myself disagree with some of the criticisms regarding the legal change. In our experience, few people go through a divorce lightly, and those who do are unlikely to finish the process all the way through to divorce. The reform does address several of the concerns that are most likely to cause difficulties in a divorce.
The desire to find blame is a source of significant emotional and administrative headaches. They believe that removing this condition will help people who feel their marriage is beyond repair deal with all legal issues, rather than only some.
Instead, the emphasis will be on minimizing potential conflict, identifying areas of agreement, and encouraging a positive attitude among both parties throughout the divorce process as well as after it is completed.
We’re certain that the changes will be beneficial to children caught in the middle of a contentious divorce. Children may find themselves being forced to choose sides during a divorce, as parents might try to prejudice the child’s beliefs and sentiments about one parent by making negative or untrue statements about the other. The no-fault divorce procedure eliminates the need to assign blame and instead puts an emphasis on finding a solution and establishing a more positive atmosphere surrounding the split.
It’s commonly thought that if one party blames the other in a divorce, they’ll get an edge when it comes to the financial settlement. However, when determining the financial settlement of the parties, their actions are rarely considered or utilized.
The changes have not been implemented hastily, and they are shaped by experts in the field as well as public opinion. There will always be unforeseen consequences when legislation is changed, but on balance, the changes should be beneficial to couples.
Is it more advantageous to get a divorce immediately, or should I wait until the no-fault divorce law comes into force?
It is inherently subjective. It depends on your circumstances. If you think you can wait until the new legislation comes into effect, it might be worth waiting because it will remove the need to assign blame and risk being blamed yourself. However, you should do what feels right for you, and you may believe that you cannot wait until Autumn 2021.
A divorce may be unavoidable if you’re facing severe financial difficulties, and you should seek expert advice as soon as possible to safeguard your rights.
Is a no-fault divorce less expensive than one based on fault?
The new legislation is expected to assist with reducing costs, but it will not significantly reduce them since the basic procedure will remain the same, and the majority of expenditures are associated with financial aspects of divorce.
Will these adjustments make a “quick divorce” possible?
No, the no-fault divorce procedure will not be any faster than conventional divorce proceedings. The goal is to make the process easier while also providing the parties time to reconsider.
Why not contact Freeman Jones Solicitors in Chester for more information on how to obtain a divorce