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Georgina Emerson
Georgina Emerson
Date Published: 1 Jul 2020
Last Updated: 1 Jul 2020

No-fault Divorce – A Welcome Change in the Law

Family Law No-fault Divorce – A Welcome Change in the Law

A step closer to no-fault divorce – the ‘blame game’ is over. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has now passed through Government and received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020.

Justice Minister Robert Buckland suggests that the new law will be implemented in the autumn of 2021.

As the law currently stands, unless there has been a period of separation in excess of 2 years, a spouse wishing to get a divorce without waiting, commonly known as a “quickie divorce”, must use one of the two fault grounds, adultery or unreasonable behaviour, and attribute blame for the breakdown of the marriage. This usually inflames an already difficult situation, often when both parties agree the marriage has, for whatever reason, run its course. The new law removes the element of blame and requires that the parties provide a statement in support of the fact that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There will also be no option to contest a divorce, which will avoid any prospect of one party seeking to gain an advantage or exerting control by trying to defend a divorce.

There will be a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce. This is not much longer than the current timeframe. This allows couples to reflect and seek appropriate support, if needed, such as counselling or mediation. It will also allow the parties an opportunity to agree financial settlements or arrangements for the children where reconciliation is not possible and divorce is inevitable.

As members of the Resolution, the family department at Ellis Jones has long been supporting the campaign to end the ‘blame game’ as it is divisive and unnecessarily inflammatory. We strongly believe that the new approach will assist our clients to focus on reaching a constructive and amicable resolution rather than dwelling on the past. Often, parties wrongly believe that ‘fault’ will impact the overall settlement outcome. This change in the law should enable parties going through a divorce to focus on future arrangements over children and a division of finances, rather than picking over what went wrong and who was to blame which does not help either of them and only serves to increase legal fees and bad feeling.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce and would like advice on the current or future ‘no-fault’ divorce procedure, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist matrimonial department on 01202 636223 or e-mail us on family@ellisjones.co.uk.

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Georgina Emerson
Georgina Emerson