1st March 2022
The New ‘No fault’ Divorce
Currently, in order to obtain a divorce in England, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’ and unless the couple has been separated for at least two years, it must be proved that the breakdown resulted from either the respondent’s adultery or “unreasonable behaviour”. Unsurprisingly, the requirement to cite adultery or to set out details of the respondent’s unreasonable behaviour at the outset of a divorce, simply fans the flames of long held resentments and means that many divorces start out in an atmosphere of blame and recrimination which possibly could have been avoided and which makes sensible and constructive discussions about future arrangements for children and finances so much more difficult than is necessary.
The New Law
At long last and to applause from most family lawyers, the law will change on 6th of April 2022, when the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force. The sole ground of divorce will still be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, but rather than having to establish a reason for the breakdown, the applicant must simply provide a statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This statement in itself will be seen as conclusive evidence of the breakdown.
Although it will still be possible to challenge a divorce for technical reasons, such as lack of jurisdiction, crucially the new law removes the ability to contest the divorce simply because one party wishes to remain married while the other does not.
Although it will still be possible for one party to apply for a divorce, if a couple have come to a mutual agreement that divorce is the right way forward, the new law allows them to make a joint application. This is in stark contrast to the previous “blame game” scenario and should help to encourage collaboration and agreement between the parties from the very start of the divorce process.
This change is much more than just a change in procedure: most people who have been experienced divorce either directly or through family or friends, will have seen the damage which can be caused by an acrimonious divorce. Therefore, the family team at Buss Murton Law wholeheartedly welcomes this change in the divorce law which should promote a more constructive approach to discussions over arrangements for children and finances and help to prevent further damage to already fragile relationships.
At Buss Murton Law, where appropriate, we encourage our clients to consider resolving arrangements through a process called ‘collaborative law’. The collaborative law method requires each party to instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer and instead of going to court, the parties and their lawyers meet in round table meetings to agree arrangements without the pain, delay and significant cost of contested court proceedings. We believe that a combination of the new divorce process and the collaborative law process offers the best chance of dealing with a divorce in a constructive and non-acrimonious way, for the benefit of all concerned.
Our Family Team at Buss Murton Law LLP is headed by collaborative lawyer and member of Resolution, Melanie den Brinker. If you are contemplating divorce or are already in the process of getting divorced and would like to find out more about collaborative law or just discuss your options, we offer a free initial 30 minute meeting.
Please call 01892 510 222 to make an enquiry today.